Page last updated at 13:49 GMT, Thursday, 4 February 2010

Cyprus webcam viewer spots Scottish rhino birth

Ailsa, white rhino calf
Ailsa was born at Blair Drummond Safari Park

Keepers at a Scottish safari park were alerted to a rhino birth by a webcam viewer from Cyprus who called to say the animal's waters had broken.

The southern white rhino, named Dot, gave birth to a female calf on 21 December at Blair Drummond Safari Park, near Stirling.

Park keepers set up a webcam to record the event, but were expecting it to take place early in the morning.

The webcam viewer called at midday to say Dot had gone into labour.

She gave birth 15 minutes later, watched by the large mammal keepers and other staff at the park.

The rhino calf, named Ailsa after one of the keepers, is one of only eight southern white rhino born in Europe in 2009 and has just been unveiled to the public.

Keeper Chris Lucas said the park had calculated Dot's due date to be 20 December, but suspected it could have been any time in a three-month window around that date.


Keeper Ailsa West describes the birth of the baby rhino as it comes outside for the first time

"On 21 December she was quite restless, but we were expecting her to give birth in the early hours of morning," he said.

"Just before 12pm we got a call from our chief warden David Booth who said someone in Cyprus had been watching the webcam and had seen Dot's waters break.

"It took us all by surprise - it's totally the wrong time of day for rhinos to give birth."

Mr Lucas said they had no way of getting in touch with the caller from Cyprus, who had not left contact details.

Arriving during one of Scotland's coldest winters in 30 years, the park said Ailsa had been kept indoors in a heated pen until now.

Dot and her calf share their enclosure with three other rhinos: Graham, the calf's dad, Mazumba her sister, and Jane - an unrelated adult female.

Ailsa, who now weighs 150kg, will not be mixed with the rest of the herd until she's older.

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