First ever Irish-born Indian rhino welcomed at Fota Wildlife Park

First ever Irish-born Indian rhino welcomed at Fota Wildlife Park

FOTA WILDLIFE Park in Cork has announced the birth of a baby Indian rhino for the first time in the park's 39-year-existence.

The baby rhino, a male who is yet to be named, was born on 19 September after a gestation period of 16 months to mother Maya and father Jamil.

The calf is the second of only three Indian rhino calves born in an zoological institution this year.

The species is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with just 3,300 living in the wild. It is believe the illegal trade of poaching rhino horn for traditional medicinal practices poses the biggest threat to the species.

The mother of the calf Maya was born in Rotterdam zoo and is almost ten years old. She arrived in Fota Wildlife Park in 2020 as part of the ex-situ European Endangered Breeding Programme from the Botanical Branfér in Nantes, France. She is the only female Indian rhino residing in any Irish zoological organisation.

Jamil, who is nine years old, was born in ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in the UK and came to Fota Wildlife Park in June 2015. Both rhinos weigh approximately two tonnes each.

Lead Ranger Aidan Rafferty said:

“Fota Wildlife Park is delighted to announce the first baby Indian rhino, hopefully, the first birth of many to come. Both mother and baby are doing really well. Maya is very protective and is constantly by his side. We’re delighted to see the little calf running around and playing. He is an absolutely gorgeous animal, and he’s getting stronger and more curious every day.

“At the moment, he’s not on view very often to the public as he’s inside the Rhino house with his mother and is gradually getting accustomed to going outside for brief periods. The best opportunity to see him is later in the afternoon. As he gets older and stronger, he’ll be introduced to the remainder of the Rhino habitat, which features grass meadows, mud pools and a lake area.”

Rhinoceroses are the largest land mammals after the elephant and are made up of five species, two African and three Asian. The Indian rhino is the largest rhino species and is also known as the greater one-horned rhino.

The Indian rhino possesses highly distinctive armour-like skin and a single horn that can be up to 60cm in length, making it an easily recognisable animal. Its single horn distinguishes the Indian rhinoceros from its African counterparts, who possess two horns.

Fota is now looking for members of the public to suggest a name for the calf, with the chance to win a Conservation annual pass from the park.

Click here to suggest a name.