Thursday, August 02, 2001

Zoo awaits rare birth of Sumatran rhino

Mother Emi under watch for signs of starting labor

By Jim Knippenberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Around the clock surveillance is about to begin on Emi, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden's pregnant Sumatran rhinoceros.

        Forty Zoo Volunteer Observers (ZVOs) are in place, ready to record every move she makes until she delivers her 50-70 pound calf.

[photo] Emi, the Cincinnati Zoo's pregnant Sumatran rhino, keeps cool Wednesday after eating her lunch.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
        Five video cameras line her living quarters; starting this week, ZVOs will sit four-hour shifts from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. (zoo keepers watch her during the day) in front of a bank of monitors.

        The zoo considers the pregnancy that important. Emi is one of 300 Sumatrans left in the world and half of the only breeding pair in the United States. Her calf will be the first conceived and born in captivity in 112 years.

        According to Dr. Terri Roth, director of the Center for Research of Endangered Wildlife, volunteers will record when she eats, drinks, lies down, changes positions, paws the ground and vocalizes.

        As she nears the end of her 16-month gestation — she's 14 1/2 months now — they'll look for signs of labor: getting up and down frequently, laying on her side, tensing hind legs, contractions along the sides of her belly and fluid discharge.

        When that happens, the zoo's health care team will be summoned.


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