The Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, located in Way Kambas National Park, celebrated the birth of a healthy male calf, on Saturday.
The baby calf, which weighs 55 pounds, is the first for the rhino couple, Harapan and Delilah, the former of whom was born at the Cincinnati Zoo.
Delilah had surprised sanctuary workers by giving birth a couple of weeks before her due date.
According to a statement by the Indonesia Ministry of Environment, she had gone into labor and given birth on her own overnight. She and the calf were later found by workers in the morning.
Despite being a first-time mom, Delilah began nursing the baby immediately after his birth “with no fanfare or fuss”, according to the executive director of the International Rhino Foundation Nina Fascione, who described the event as ‘incredible’ as it gives hope to the future of the species.
The baby calf, whose name has not yet been revealed to the public, is the second Sumatran rhino to be born at the sanctuary in two months and the fifth overall birth that they’ve celebrated.
The calf’s mother, Delilah, was also born at the sanctuary in 2016. With this, she has become the first captive-born individual to give birth.
The Sumatran rhino, a species native to Indonesia, is the most threatened species of rhino in the world. While they once inhabited swamps, cloud forests, and rainforests in Laos, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, and China, they are now only found in Borneo and Sumatra, with an estimated population of less than 80 mature adults.
According to the Red List, the species is already extinct in Cambodia, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Brunei, among other regions.
In recent years, however, various breeding programs have made progress, which may lead to the species’ possible survival.
Just a couple of years ago, there was only one captive adult worldwide that was able to breed and produce offspring. Now, there are three pairs that have proven themselves to be successful breeders; this has greatly increased the chance of the species’ long-term survival.
Officials said there are now 10 Sumatran rhinos residing at the Indonesian sanctuary, a semi-wild breeding research facility that the Rhino Foundation of Indonesia manages.
Jansen Manansang, the foundation’s executive director, said the baby calf and his mother will be closely monitored and cared for by a team of animal care staff and veterinarians.
Currently, the goal of the breeding program is to increase the number of wild Sumatran rhinos. They are hopeful that one day they will be able to release the animals back into their natural habitats.
Moving forward, the Rhino Foundation of Indonesia will continue to support and assist the Sumatran rhino conversation and breeding efforts in the country.