Rare rhino conceived by artificial insemination born at Florida zoo

Zoo Miami welcomed the birth of a rare rhino — the first rhino ever to be conceived from induced ovulation and artificial insemination — on Tuesday, the Florida zoo said.

Akuti, a 7-year-old greater one-horned Indian rhinoceros, gave birth Tuesday at 12:30 a.m. after a 15-month pregnancy, the zoo announced in a Facebook post on Wednesday, calling the event “truly historic.”

It is the first birth for Akuti and only the second successful birth of the species at the zoo. The baby rhino’s father is 18-year-old Suru.

The gender of the baby rhino is unknown at this point, according to The Miami Herald. The zoo said the veterinary team has not been able to do a neonatal exam yet.

“Initial indications are that the newborn is healthy and doing well but more detailed information will not become available until the veterinary team is able to do a neonatal exam. This will be performed when the staff feels that it can safely separate the infant from its very protective mother for the few minutes that the exam will take,” officials said, in part, online.

“It is critical that the mother and newborn are able to establish a bond which can sometimes be a challenge for first-time mothers,” they added.

According to the zoo, natural breeding attempts were unsuccessful, so a team of reproductive specialists from the South East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction and Conservation (SEZARC) artificially collected semen from Suru in January 2018 and artificially inseminated Akuti the next day.

Zoo staff closely monitored the development of the fetus and kept Akuti under 24-hour observation leading up to the birth, according to the zoo’s post.

Akuti — which means “Princess” in Hindi — was born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in 2012 and was moved to Zoo Miami in February 2016. Suru was also born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and was moved to Zoo Miami in 2003.

Indian rhinos have been poached for their horn and today there are fewer than 3,000 in the wild in protected areas of Nepal, India and Assam, according to Zoo Miami. As the world’s fourth-largest mammal, Indian rhinos can weigh up to 6,000 pounds.

Greater one-horned rhinos, also known as Indian rhinos are poached for their horns and today, there are fewer than 3,000 in the wild in protected areas, according to Zoo Miami. (File photo) (Associated Press)

Though there is plenty of excitement surrounding the new resident at Zoo Miami, the zoo said it will be weeks before visitors or media will be able to see the mom and her baby, in order to give the new family time to adjust.

“This very rare birth is not only significant for Zoo Miami, it is incredibly important to the international efforts to maintain a healthy population under human care of this highly vulnerable species throughout the world,” the zoo concluded.