Page last updated at 14:29 GMT, Friday, 31 October 2008

Rare black rhino calf born at zoo

Chester Zoo's new baby black rhinoceros with its mother, Kitani
There are just 700 black rhinos in the world

A black rhino has been born at Chester Zoo - the first one to be born there for 10 years.

There are just 700 black rhinos across the world and the species is perilously close to extinction.

The calf, which is believed to be a boy, was born to 10-year-old mum Kitani at the Cheshire zoo on Wednesday.

It is part of an international breeding programme within zoos, which has already seen some black rhinos returned to Africa to help boost numbers.

Kevin Buley, Chester Zoo's head of zoo programmes, said: "Our new arrival may be taking small steps at first but eventually it will have a bigger role to play as part of a co-ordinated breeding programme.

"We have a very happy team of keepers and veterinary people at Chester Zoo today.

"They have all worked very hard to get to this point and the first rhino birth here for 10 years is a great achievement. However when all is said and done, it was down to Kitani to come up with the goods, so to speak."

He added: "For a first time mum, she is proving to be a natural and we are delighted with the progress Kitani and her calf are making in these first fragile few days."

Kitani and her as yet unnamed calf are currently not on show to visitors in the Tsavo rhino house as they need to continue to bond.

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