Canberra, March 27 (IANS) A five-day-old southern white rhino calf has died from internal injuries sustained after birth at the Werribee Open Range Zoo in Australia’s Victoria state, authorities announced on Monday.
In a statement, the zoo said that the female calf suffered a neurological episode just before midnight on March 25, followed by cardiac arrest, and the veterinary staff was unable to resuscitate her, reports Xinhua news agency.
Experts from the Veterinarian School at the University of Melbourne have conducted a necropsy, which confirmed that the calf sustained a broken scapula, attributable to interactions with her mother in the immediate hours post-birth.
According to the statement, it is suspected that blood clots at the fracture area led to neurological signs and cardiac arrest. Histopathology results are pending and due in two weeks.
“The death of any animal is challenging for all involved, but we can find comfort in the knowledge that every action was taken to ensure the calf was receiving the best care possible,” Werribee Open Range Zoo Director Mark Pilgrim said.
The nine-year-old southern white rhino and first-time mother Kipenzi gave birth to the female calf on March 21, following a 16-month pregnancy.
Keepers observed an absence of healthy bonding, with the calf not thriving as expected during the critical first hours of infancy.
After consultation with the zoo’s veterinary team, the calf was brought to the clinic for medical checks and supplementary feeding.
“We know this news will bring sadness to our zoo community, and our kind thoughts are with them and all who cared for this precious calf, and particularly with our vet and keeping teams who worked tirelessly to care for the calf over the past five days,” said Pilgrim.
It was the first calf of this threatened species to be born at the zoo in almost a decade.
The last time a rhino calf was born at the zoo was in 2014.
The calf also required veterinary support due to a bacterial infection in its stomach. This infection was untreatable and veterinarians had to make the difficult decision to euthanise it.
Southern white rhinos are listed as “Near Threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
By the IUCN’s count, there are 10,080 mature individuals remaining across the world.