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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 March 2007, 09:33 GMT
Rhino gives 'first' birth on web
Rhino calf

A rhino has been born at a Devon zoo, in what is believed to be the first birth of its type on a webcam.

Sita, a black rhino at Paignton Zoo, gave birth to a calf at 2010 GMT on Monday, watched by thousands of people on the BBC Devon website.

Sita-watchers have been observing her day and night for weeks.

The girl calf, who has not yet been named, appears to be doing well and took her first steps overnight, delighted zookeepers said.

It seems to be happily twitching its ears
Neil Bemment
Neil Bemment, head of mammals at Paignton Zoo, said: "We're really pleased we've had a successful birth.

"Everything seems to have gone smoothly. Sita is a little bewildered by the new arrival.

"Sita was exhausted after her labours and we were relieved when she allowed the calf to suckle for the first time.

"The calf doesn't seem in any hurry to get up, but it seems to be happily twitching its ears."

Sita the black rhino with her new calf
Sita's calf has been suckling successfully

The calf had difficulty standing up in the first five hours after the birth and was eventually helped by keepers to take its first steps early on Tuesday.

Black rhinos are among the most endangered species in the world and are listed as critically endangered.

The population dropped by more than 90% between 1970 and the mid 1990s when it reached a low of about 2,400.

Infrared cameras

A first-time mother, 16-year-old Sita was moved from the Berlin Zoo to Devon in 2002.

Her mate, Kingo, is 23 years old, weighs in at 1.8 tonnes, and lives in an adjacent paddock.

Remote control and infrared cameras were installed in the rhino house for a special BBC Inside Out programme in the South West, and British Telecom sponsored a high-speed broadband line so the images can be streamed on-demand on the BBC Devon website.

On the night of the birth, the BBC Devon website received more than 600 messages from the public expressing both congratulations and concern about the rhinos' welfare.

The Inside Out programme will be broadcast on 23 March.

Delight as baby rhino is born safe and well

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