Zoo Chat

Lovely Mothers: Kufara and keeper Linda Matthews. Taronga Western Plains Zoo imported six Black Rhinos from Zimbabwe in 1994.
Lovely Mothers: Kufara and keeper Linda Matthews. Taronga Western Plains Zoo imported six Black Rhinos from Zimbabwe in 1994.

It was an exciting day when Black Rhinoceros Kufara gave birth to a healthy female calf on 11 April 2017 and our wait for the calf was finally over!

Keepers were surprised to find an additional four grey feet that morning as they had been planning for a May birth.

“Although Kufara had just entered into the period of birthing range, we were not expecting her to have this little bundle until May,” said Keeper Linda Matthews.

“Predicting the timing of a Black Rhino birth can be hard.

Even though theoretically their gestation is 15-16 months; it is quite possible for a female to calve as early as 14 months, which is what happened in Kufara’s case.”

“We are all very excited to welcome a new Black Rhinoceros to the group. Not only does this birth shed a positive light onto an uncertain future for this species in the wild, but it also signals a significant milestone at the Zoo.”

“We now hold four generations of the one family here at Taronga Western Plains Zoo. We have the great grandmother, grandmother, mother and now daughter.”

This genetic line is extremely important as this calf’s genetics stem from a bloodline straight out of Africa.

“I can sympathise with how Kufara progressed during her pregnancy, as I am also expecting my first child very soon and personally I was grinning from ear to ear as this birth occurred on my birthday! You just can’t beat a present quite like that,” said Linda.

 Kufara and her calf are continuing to do well behind-the-scenes. The calf is now one month old and will remain off display for some time as the bond between the two strengthens.

Kufara and her calf are expected to go on display for visitors to see in late June.

Quick Facts

Life Span: 35-40 years

Size: Head to body length - 3-38m; stands between 1.4 and 1.5 high at shoulder; horn - 50cm-130cm in length

Weight: Up to 1400kg

The Black Rhinoceros is a territorial, solitary animal that can be quite aggressive. It has a head to body length of 3 - 3.8m and stands between 1.4 and 1.5m high at the shoulder. A Black Rhino has an average weight of 1400kgs and its front horn can range from 50cm – 130cm in length.

The Black Rhino has two horns positioned along the middle of the snout. They are composed of Keratin, the protein which forms the basis for hair and nails. They have a prehensile upper lip which is used to pluck branches and leaves from shrubs.

The Black Rhino has poor vision and relies mainly on its sense of smell to explore surroundings. They also have good hearing.