Source: safaripark.nl
The European breeding programme for rhinoceroses wants to improve rhino offspring in Europe and build up a sustainable population in European zoos.
Reproduction in rhinoceroses that have been born in captivity is particularly difficult. Only 13% of the 275 white rhinoceroses born in a European zoo have produced offspring. It is believed that young females born in a herd are hormonally suppressed by their mothers. In the wild, young females leave the herd when their mothers have another baby.
The breeding programme now encourages zoos to exchange female rhinoceroses once the animals have become young adults.
A nice example of this strategy is the rhinonoceros cow Makoubu. She was born in Whipsnade Zoo in England. Makoubu received hormone treatments and artificial insemination, but she failed to become pregnant. In April 2009 she moved to Safaripark Beekse Bergen (The Netherlands). Here she conceived naturally with rhino bull Miquelin. She is now halfway through her pregnancy and is doing very well according to her keepers. The calf is expected in August 2011, after a gestation period of one and a half year.
The coordination of the European breeding programme is in the hands of Safaripark Beekse Bergen.