“The death of the rhino calf was a complete shock and both the vets and the keepers did everything they could yesterday to try and save the little one.
“The death of the rhino calf was a complete shock and both the vets and the keepers did everything they could yesterday to try and save the little one."

Bittersweet! A rare rhino calf dies, a cute giraffe is born

Zookeepers are mourning the death of 11-month-old white rhinoceros calf Imani.

The calf, the sixth born at the Monarto Sarafi Park, died on Monday - the same day a new giraffe calf was born on the property.

The giraffe is the 48th born at Monarto.

Zoos SA chief executive Elaine Bensted said it had been a bittersweet day for zookeepers and vets.

"The death of the rhino calf was a complete shock and both the vets and the keepers did everything they could yesterday to try and save the little one," Ms Bensted said.

Southern white rhino Imani with her mother, Umqali in November last year. Imani has suddenly died. Picture: Tait Schmaal
Southern white rhino Imani with her mother, Umqali in November last year. Imani has suddenly died. Picture: Tait Schmaal

"The giraffe calf appears fit and healthy but mum isn't mothering, so that may well be one we need to hand-raise."

The zoo hand-raised another baby giraffe earlier this year.

Ms Bensted said vets and zookeepers were still investigating Imani's cause of death, but early indications were she might have suffered a large blood clot.

Keepers alerted vets to the situation early on Monday morning after Imani's mother Umqali showed signs of discomfort because her calf wasn't feeding.

It soon became apparent that it was her calf Imani who was unwell.

The veterinary team immediately took blood tests in an effort to diagnose the situation, quickly ruling out a snake bite.

Giraffe Thula with her new baby. Picture: Zoos SA
Giraffe Thula with her new baby. Picture: Zoos SA

Results did show that Imani's red blood cells and protein levels were low, which resulted in the veterinary team deciding to sedate both mother and calf and undertake a blood transfusion between them.

The calf was also given antibiotics in an effort to fight off any infection.

Ms Bensted said keepers and Zoos SA staff were devastated at Imani's death.

The southern white rhino calf, whose name means 'faith' in Swahili, represented new hope for the species.

"Imani showed no signs of ill health in the days leading up to her death and the event has come as a huge shock to staff and volunteers.

Zookeepers are mourning after the unexpected death of Imani, who was hoped to help the endangered species thrive. Picture: Tait Schmaal
Zookeepers are mourning after the unexpected death of Imani, who was hoped to help the endangered species thrive. Picture: Tait Schmaal

"Our rhino keepers and veterinary staff care deeply for all the animals that call Monarto Safari Park home, so we're all incredibly sad.

"Our focus now is on supporting Imani's mum, Umqali, and our dedicated keeping staff through this sad time."

Zoos SA is currently working with the Australian Rhino Project and other partners to create a rhino sanctuary at Monarto, which will see a large number of southern white rhinos, which are currently in danger of extinction, relocated to safety in Australia.

On a brighter note, the as-yet unnamed giraffe is the second born to mother Thula.

"While we're sad about Imani's passing, we're happy to welcome another not-so-little giraffe calf to our herd," Ms Bensted said.

"Thula mismothered her first calf named Eyelean which resulted in our dedicated keepers needing to intervene and hand-rear Eyelean.

The new giraffe calf is the 48th one born at Monarto. Picture: Zoos SA
The new giraffe calf is the 48th one born at Monarto. Picture: Zoos SA

"While we certainly hope that Thula will go on to mother her newest calf, keepers are prepared to step in and hand-rear the calf if required.

"The new calf is a significant contribution to giraffe conservation as well as allowing us to continue to raise awareness of the plight of the giraffe and our other conservation programs."

 

Imani just after she was born in November last year. Picture: Zoos SA / Geoff Brooks
Imani just after she was born in November last year. Picture: Zoos SA / Geoff Brooks
Umqali with her rhino calf Imani. Picture: Zoos SA / Geoff Brooks
Umqali with her rhino calf Imani. Picture: Zoos SA / Geoff Brooks


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