(Flamingo Land/PA)
(Flamingo Land/PA)

Zookeepers have welcomed the first birth of a black rhino in Europe this year after capturing the arrival of the critically endangered animal on camera.

The baby male was born at Flamingo Land in Kirby Misperton, near MaltonNorth Yorkshire at 5.25pm on Sunday after its mother had a 16-month pregnancy.

The calf, which is yet to be named, is the first eastern black rhinoceros to be born in Yorkshire, and continues the zoo’s conservation work, which has seen two rhinos leave the site to be released into the wild in Africa.

He was born to mother Samira, who was transferred to Flamingo Land from Zurich Zoo in 2015, and father Magadi, who arrived from Chester Zoo in 2019, and his first moments were watched by zookeepers on a network of cameras.

Sam DeBelle, head keeper at Flamingo Land, said: “We have waited so long for this baby, both mum and baby are doing incredibly well and I am so proud of Samira and all her keepers.”

Ross Snipp, zoo manager and park executive, said the calf was the first black rhino born in Europe in 2021.

He said: “This success represents eight years of planning for the team and working collaboratively with our partners across Europe.

“All new births are exciting but there is added significance for this one, both for us and the global population.”

A critically endangered black rhino calf has been born at Flamingo Land zoo, in North Yorkshire. (PA/Flamingo Land)

Mr Snipp said keepers are trying to decide on a Swahili name for the calf, which he described as “big and strong and active”.

He said: “He is going to grow to be a big, strong, strapping male.”

Gordon Gibb, Flamingo Land’s owner, said: “This is the first time a black rhino has been born in Yorkshire and, with only approximately 3,000 black rhinos left in the wild, continued our vitally important conservation work at home and abroad.”

The zoo moved female rhino Olmoti to the National Park in Rwanda in 2019 in the biggest translocation of rhinos ever to Africa, and in March, eight-year-old Chanua left Flamingo Land ahead of a move to Tanzania where she will be released into the wild.

Mr Gibb said: “Who knows, one day this baby may follow in the footsteps of his big sisters.”

There are 85 eastern black rhinos in European zoos and no more than an estimated 3,600 in the wild in Kenya and Tanzania, the home of Flamingo Land’s Udzungwa Forest Project.

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