Tashi, the greater one-horned rhinoceros, is pregnant, thanks to the marvels of modern veterinary medicine, the Buffalo Zoo announced Thursday.
Veterinarians used artificial insemination to impregnate the rhino, who is expected to give birth in the summer of 2019. The long-distance dad is a rhino named Suru at Zoo Miami in Florida, zoo officials said.
This wouldn't be Tashi's first calf.
In 2014, she and the Buffalo Zoo became the first to use artificial insemination to produce a greater one-horned rhino that survived past infancy. That baby, Monica, weighed in at 144 pounds at birth. She now is at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Monica's dad, Jimmy, died at the Cincinnati Zoo a decade earlier and his frozen sperm was stored at -320 degrees before it was brought to Buffalo, thawed and used in the artificial insemination.
Monica remained at the Buffalo for two years after her birth, before she was shipped to San Diego. At the time, she was heralded as a major scientific achievement by Zoo President Donna Fernandes.
"Monica's birth here at the Buffalo Zoo was a major victory for endangered species and rhinos around the world," Fernandes said in October 2016. "Monica has a good chance of becoming a successful mother to many rhinos, and contributing to the survival of this important species."
Monica's transfer to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park followed a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that was part of the international organization's Species Survival Plan. The goal is to ensure the survival of selected animal species, including those that are threatened and endangered, in zoos and aquariums.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park houses the largest group of Indian rhinos in captivity, and is the most successful managed-care breeding program for rhinos anywhere in the world.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park houses the largest group of Indian rhinos in captivity and the most successful managed-care breeding program for rhinos anywhere in the world.
The Indian rhino is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and is the largest of all rhino species.
The resurgence of the Indian rhino is considered a conservation success story. At the start of the 20th century, there were fewer than 200 Indian rhinos in the wild. Thanks to strict protection from wildlife authorities in India and Nepal, the native homelands of the species, the number of Indian rhinos has increased to more than 3,500.
Prior to giving birth to Monica, Tashi delivered a calf in 2004 another in 2008, which were also sent to other zoos. The first she delivered after a 16-month gestation. That baby rhino was a 115-pound female whose birth surprised zookeepers because she was born during the daytime, when 99 percent of rhino births occur at night.
The happy announcement comes as the zoo prepares to celebrate World Rhino Day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday with "keeper talks, themed activities and rhino encounters."
The Buffalo Zoo is a fairly frequent venue for animal births, and not just rhinos. On April 18, 2017, a male Scandinavian reindeer was born to 6-year-old mom, Solara, and 3-year-old dad, Apollo, one of more than 100 reindeer births at the zoo since 1970.
On Nov. 17, 2016, the zoo welcomed a male Brazilian ocelot kitten named Zico, born to 6-year-old mama ocelot, Ayla, and dad, Pedro, 12. An African lion cub was born March 5, 2016, at the zoo, and the birth of a baby western lowland gorilla at the zoo was announced on Jan. 10, 2016.