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Zoo Miami’s Endangered Indian Rhino Is Expecting A Baby

Zoo Miami spokesman Ron Magill announced some good news in a press release-- an endangered Indian rhinoceros, who lives at the zoo, is pregnant.

The 6-year-old rhino named Akuti was artificially inseminated on January 9th. If Akuti brings the pregnancy to term, it will be the first time in the U.S. that a greater one-horned rhino gives birth to a calf conceived through induced ovulation.

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According to Magill, the pregnancy was initially confirmed on March 24 through a rectal ultrasound, but it wasn't until recently that zoo staff members could indisputably confirm that Akuti had in fact conceived and the pregnancy was progressing normally.

Akuti, which means princess in Hindi, was born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on January 20th, 2012. She arrived at Zoo Miami in December 2015 and this is her first pregnancy. As the gestation period is close to 16 months, Akuti is due to give birth sometime in April 2019. Magill said the father of the expected baby is "Suru," a 17-year-old rhino also born at the San Diego Zoo. Magill also said that Suru arrived at Zoo Miami back in 2003.

Suru's sperm was also used to inseminate a rhino at Buffalo Zoo, who is also expecting. The animal has two previous offspring at Zoo Miami, which currently has four female baby one-horned rhinos. Magill said the fetus's ribs, backbone and strong beating heart can now be seen via ultrasound.

The greater one-horned rhino (or “Indian rhino”) is the largest of the rhino species. Once widespread across the entire northern part of the Indian sub-continent, rhino populations plummeted as they were hunted for sport or killed as agricultural pests. This pushed the species very close to extinction and by the end of the 20th century, fewer than 200 animals remained.

The greater one-horned rhino is identified by a single black horn about 8-25 inches long and a grey-brown hide with skin folds, which gives it an armor-plated appearance. According to Magill, the horn is believed by some to have medicinal powers and is used by some cultures as status-defining dagger handles. The greater one-horned rhino is among one of the world's largest rhinos, with males exceeding 4,000 pounds.

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