Greater one-horned rhinos were once widespread throughout several Asian countries. From the beginning of the 20th century, its number decreased to a population of just 200 due to being hunted for sport. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List has labeled the species “Vulnerable” as they are still threatened by human-rhino conflicts, poaching, and habitat loss. For years, there have been strict protection efforts across the world which have helped the species rebound. As of now, there are an estimated 3,500 greater one-horned rhinos in the wild.
Another good news is the birth of the first greater one-horned rhino calf in Denver Zoo last February 22. “It’s a significant event for several reasons, including the fact that this is the first greater one-horned rhino born at Denver Zoo, and because it was another very important step in reproductive science for animals in the wild and human care,” Brian Aucone, senior vice president for animal sciences at the zoo, said in a press release.
According to CNN, an American news-based pay television channel owned by AT&T's WarnerMedia, the zoo staff confirmed Tensing, the mother one-horned rhino, was pregnant back in December 2018. Dr. Anneke Moresco, the zoo's Reproductive Specialist, and Dr. Monica Stoops, now lead reproduction scientist at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, conducted 11 unsuccessful artificial insemination procedures with Tensing over four years. Thus, they were ecstatic to discover that she was pregnant after the 12th procedure.
"Tensing's journey from pregnancy to motherhood exemplifies the care our team provides to ensure our animals are able to voluntarily participate in their own medical care. It took extraordinary patience and dedication over countless hours to make Tensing feel at ease with the artificial insemination and ultrasound procedures that ultimately resulted in a healthy mom and calf," Assistant Pachyderm Curator at the zoo Lindsey Kirkman said.
According to People, an American weekly magazine of celebrity and human-interest stories, Tensing was quick to bond with her calf and started nursing, grooming, and napping with her baby shortly after birth.