A newborn baby rhinoceros has died less than a week after it was born at an Australian zoo.
The Southern white rhino calf, which was yet to be named, was born early on Tuesday morning at Werribee Open Range Zoo, southwest of Melbourne.
The female calf was only five days old when she suffered “a neurological episode just before midnight Saturday, followed by cardiac arrest,” according to a Werribee Zoo statement.
The unnamed Southern white rhino calf died late on Saturday night.
Zoo staff attempted to resuscitate the calf, but they were unsuccessful.
The zoo’s director Mark Pilgrim said staff were devastated, but had done an excellent job in caring for the newborn during her first critical days.
“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,” said Dr Pilgrim.
The calf was the first Southern white rhino born at Werribee Open Range Zoo in almost a decade. First-time mother Kipenzi gave birth early on Tuesday morning.
“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.”
A post-mortem examination of the calf uncovered the possible cause of the neurological episode: a broken scapula, likely caused by interactions with her mother Kipenzi in the immediate hours post-birth.
The calf weighed about 60kg at birth. It’s believed she suffered a cardiac arrest late on Saturday after suffering injuries caused during interaction with her mother in the hours after birth.
The University of Melbourne veterinarian school suspects blood clots at the fracture site led to the episode and resulting death.
It was the first birth for Kipenzi, who gave birth after a 16-month gestation.
Vets at the zoo noticed there were no immediate signs of healthy bonding, with the calf moved to a vet clinic for supplementary feeding.