Zoo's rare rhino pregnant

Friday, June 12, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Emi, the 8-year-old resident of the Cincinnati Zoo, is due in the fall.
(file photo)
| ZOOM |

Emi, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden's 8-year-old Sumatran rhinoceros, is pregnant and due in the fall of 1999. She is 80 days into a 15-16 month gestation. Ipuh is the father of the baby, expected to weigh 30-40 pounds.

If carried to term, the baby will be the first Sumatran bred and born in captivity in 108 years. The last was in Calcutta.

This is Emi and Ipuh's second pregnancy. The first -- called "the most significant breeding of any large mammal in our century" by zoo director Ed Maruska -- was last October. It ended at 42 days when the embryo failed to implant in the wall of the uterus.

In this pregnancy, "implantation appears to have been successful," said Dr. Terri Roth, director of the zoo's Center for Research of Endangered Wildlife. She has been monitoring the pregnancy by ultrasound and hormone levels.

The fetal heartbeat, she said, is strong.

Sumatran rhinos, native to Southeast Asia, are extremely rare: 200-400 live in the wild and only 17 in captivity. Cincinnati has the only three -- Emi, Ipuh and Rapunzel -- in the U.S.

Emi's pregnancy is referred to as "assisted breeding." Dr. Roth and a team of keepers relied on ultrasound and animal behavior to calculate when Emi would be in estrus, the only time the animals can be together. Encounters when the female is not in estrus result in fights and injuries to the animals.

Earlier breeding attempts failed because keepers had to guess when Emi was in estrus. Knowing the cycle allowed them to put the couple together for five breeding sessions between November and March.

If Emi's pregnancy is successful it will be the zoo's second milestone in large mammal breeding. Jati, the zoo's elephant, delivered a 213-pound baby March 15. It was the first elephant conceived and born in Ohio since the days of the woolly mammoth, 10,000 years ago.

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Zoo's rare rhino pregnant