Rare southern white rhino calf born at Colchester Zoo

  • Watch the rhino calf and her mum, Astrid

A southern white rhino has been born at Colchester Zoo - weighing in at an impressive 66kg.

The calf, born two weeks ago to mum Astrid, is the seventh to be born at the zoo since it started its southern white rhino breeding programme in 2009.

According to National Geographic, southern white rhinos were thought to be extinct in the late 19th century until a small population of fewer than a hundred were found in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.

Now, after a century of conservation efforts, there are between 19,600 and 21,000 southern white rhinos in protected areas and private game reserves, especially in South Africa.

They are now classified as a "near threatened" species, and their comeback is regarded as a major conservation success story.

The calf is yet to be named, but staff at the zoo say they have had fun taking care of her since she was born on 13 January.

The newborn southern white rhino calf with her mum Astrid Credit: ITV News Anglia

Team leader Jo Burch explained that Astrid had had to express milk after the calf struggled to breastfeed.

"The newborn explored her stall looking for a milk source but unfortunately didn’t successfully suckle from mum.

"This continued throughout the day on January 13, and we were starting to get concerned that as the hours passed without her drinking, she would miss the vital colostrum from mum.

"Therefore, that afternoon, we made the decision to express milk from Astrid and feed the calf via a bottle.

"We had regularly been checking Astrid’s teats throughout January to check for milk pre-birth, so Astrid was used to this process. After a bit of assistance squeezing the milk from the bottle, the calf hungrily took her first feed."

This went on for the first few days after her birth, but now the calf is feeding from her mum easily.

Ms Burch added: "At a week old now, her personality is starting to show through, even to the point of refusing to let the us get a new weight off her as she enjoys zooming around her enclosure.

"We like to get to know the new-borns before naming them as we like their name to have a specific meaning to the individual.

"We have some ideas but have not made a decision yet. We might ask the public to help us choose when we have a shortlist."

It was one of the biggest news stories of our time - and it's still not over. So what did Boris Johnson know about Downing Street’s notorious parties? With fresh revelations from our Number 10 sources, in their own words, listen to the inside story...