1. ITV Report

Ultrasound of Wales' first baby rhino released

Credit: Folly Farm

Ultrasound footage from the ever pregnant rhino in Wales has been released.

Folly Farm's six-year-old eastern black rhino, Dakima is expecting her first calf. They hope it will help increase the population of what is a critically endangered species.

There are thought to be fewer than 650 Eastern black rhinos left in the wild - and just 88 in captivity across Europe.

Dakima and Nkosi, the expectant parents Credit: Folly Farm

As Wales' first baby rhino the zookeepers turned to horse vets at Cotts Equine who had access to a large ultrasound scanner.

Unsurprisingly it was the first time equine vet Graham Fowce had performed an ultrasound on a rhino.

The anatomy of a rhino is similar enough to a horse so, when I was asked about an ultrasound, I was confident we’d be able to do it.

I dressed in one of their Folly Farm uniforms so I would smell familiar to Dakima. She’d been well trained to stand still, they’d even practiced putting gel on her stomach to get her used to the feeling and smell.

Similar to humans we can never be 100% sure what we can see on the screen. We’re pretty sure the images show the baby’s limbs and Dakima’s womb - as long as we can detect movement and a strong heartbeat, we know they are both doing well

– Graham Fowce

Dakima is expected to give birth in January 2020 and for the past few months, they’ve been baby-proofing the enclosure and preparing birth plans.

Tim Morphew, zoo curator at Folly Farm, says Dakima's pregnancy is going well.

Credit: Folly Farm

She’s a healthy weight and we can see the baby moving around in her stomach which is pretty cool.

The keepers have been busy ‘baby-proofing’ the enclosure, Kirafu Reserve, making sure there’s no sharp corners, creating a bigger and softer bed and securing the enclosure with additional fencing to stop baby squeezing through the large bars.

We’ve also installed extra heaters to keep the enclosure warm and cosy in the cold weather.

– Tim Morphew, zoo curator

It is thought that Dakima conceived in October 2018, after slowly being introduced to eight-year-old Nkosi.

Folly Farm’s Kifaru Reserve is a £500,000 purpose-built exhibit which they say reflects the zoo's commitment to conservation.