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What a “Cool” Rhino Baby

While we don’t provide the daily husbandry and care for the father of Nikki’s calf on Cincinnati Zoo grounds, because he lives at the Bronx Zoo, we do care for his contribution (frozen sperm).  Here is a picture of the Indian rhino sperm bank after one of our CREW team members tops it off with liquid nitrogen.

The “bank” is shorthand for a set of insulated tanks (eg. high quality thermoses).  We top off all the tanks in CREW’s CryoBioBank every Friday to ensure they are maintained at minus 320°F.  While we don’t have male Indian rhinos at the Cincinnati Zoo, we have the genetic potential (sperm) of the most valuable males cryopreseved for use in artificial insemination procedures.  You can imagine just how hard it would be to ship a male Indian rhino around, especially one that lives in another state or another country.

August 30, 2010   No Comments

Nikki’s Having a Baby!

Indian rhinos are pregnant for 16 months or 462-491 days.  Today, Nikki is at day 428 of gestation.  Less than 50 days to go!  I’m Dr.  Monica Stoops, the scientist at CREW who worked with our rhino keepers and Nikki to help her become an expectant rhino mom.

Just like human females, sometimes our zoo animals need help to have a baby and CREW scientists are world leaders in helping endangered species reproduce.  Nikki has progressed wonderfully throughout her pregnancy and it has been exciting to see the growth (via ultrasound) of this very special rhino baby.   Based on an ultrasound exam conducted on day 72 of gestation, we were able to determine if Nikki ‘s calf was a boy or a girl.

Nikki's Ultrasound - Day 90

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Boy or Girl, it is the cutest Indian rhino baby we have ever seen!

August 26, 2010   1 Comment

A Visit to the Critically Endangered Rhinos of Indonesia

I have just returned from a two week trip to Indonesia…my third in 10 months! The goals of this trip were numerous and there are always unexpected things that pop up as well. At the beginning of my trip I visited Ujung Kulon National Park with a Rhino Protection Unit team and the Director of the Indonesian Rhino Foundation. Ujung Kulon National Park is the last stronghold of the Javan rhinoceros. We think there are about 45 rhinos in the park. The only other Javan rhinos alive in the world are in Vietnam where there may only be 3-4 animals, and one was recently poached. The trek in Ujung Kulon was a steamy one since the rainy season has not ended yet this year and the rhinos seek swampy areas so that they can wallow and keep cool. However, the adventure was well worth it because we did find fresh rhino tracks.

Marking Javan rhino tracks in the rain with Rhino Protection Unit Ranger in Ujung Kulon National Park

Pretty cool and definitely a rare opportunity to be traipsing through the same swamp as a Javan rhino!

Trekking in the swamp of Ujung Kulon National Park

The second week of my trip was spent at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary where the Cincinnati Zoo sent its first born Sumatran rhino calf, Andalas. It was great to check on the boy who looks fabulous and is receiving the best care imaginable – including special foot baths.

Andalas enjoys his weekly footbath

Andalas was sent to Sumatra to serve as the breeding male for the sanctuary and, so far, he is living up to our expectations. His first mate, Ratu, became pregnant earlier this year, but unfortunately lost that pregnancy very early in gestation. The two are breeding again and we hope to have good news to share again soon.

Andalas 2010

CREW’s wildlife conservation efforts extend to many corners of the globe, and despite the dreaded 14-hour airplane rides, working with our collaborators in-country is an essential part of our mission: Saving Species with Science®.

August 5, 2010   2 Comments