Cincinnati Zoo Born Sumatran Rhino Harapan Sires First Calf

Posted November 27, 2023

The last of his kind in the western hemisphere has made a major contribution to the survival of his species years after moving to Indonesia

CINCINNATI, OH (November 27, 2023) – In 2015, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden made the very tough decision to send the third Cincinnati Zoo-born Sumatran rhino calf, Harapan, to Indonesia so that he would have the opportunity to contribute to his critically endangered species’ survival rather than simply serving an ambassador role as the last Sumatran rhino in the western hemisphere.  On Saturday, November 25, 2023, a healthy male calf, sired by Harapan, was born.

photos (courtesy of the Indonesia Ministry of Environment and Forestry)

“It was a long, arduous journey for all involved, and not without risks.  Although it took several years before Harapan achieved what he was sent to do, this birth of his first calf at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) confirms that we made the right decision,” said Dr. Terri Roth, director of the Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) and the scientist whose research led to the births of Harapan and his two siblings. “Our efforts and sacrifice were worth it, and the ultimate goal has been achieved.   We are so grateful for the wonderful partnership we have shared with our Indonesian colleagues for over two decades and so very proud of their success.”

This is also the first calf for mom, Delilah, making the birth even more significant as it proves that both parents can reproduce.  With only ten Sumatran rhinos, including the new calf and another born earlier this year, in the managed breeding program and fewer than 80 individuals in existence, this natural breeding success greatly increases the odds for the long-term survival of the species.

“You never know if a first-time mom will know what to do, but Delilah brought that calf into the world and started nursing it with no fuss or fanfare. It’s an incredible event that gives hope to the future of this critically endangered species,” said Nina Fascione, the International Rhino Foundation’s (IRF’s) executive director.

The gestation period for a Sumatran rhino is about 16 months, so increasing the population will take time and patience.  “We are moving in the right direction. Two years ago, there were only two proven breeders at SRS.  Today, there are six.  The progress and momentum behind the managed breeding program is so encouraging, though we now need new genes since all offspring to-date are related to the successful breeding pair from the Cincinnati Zoo.”, said Roth.

Harapan’s older brother, Andalas, was born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2001 and was the first of his kind to be born in a zoo in more than a century.  He moved to SRS in 2007 and has sired three calves there.  Two of those calves are now parents!

baby rhino
Courtesy of the Indonesia Ministry of Environment and Forestry
baby rhino and mom
Courtesy of the Indonesia Ministry of Environment and Forestry