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Endangered black rhino born at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - An Eastern black rhinoceros, a critically endangered species, was born at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo this week, the first in 24 years, officials said on Thursday.

The male calf, weighing 60 pounds at birth, was born on Monday to first-time mother, Kapuki, age 8, according to the zoo. The father is 27-year-old Maku.

Black rhinos were nearly driven to extinction in the 1990s. They are a major poaching target, mainly due to the misconception that their horns have medicinal value.

There are 5,055 Eastern black rhinos in the wild, and 68 Eastern black rhinos in 25 accredited zoos across North America. Lincoln Park has three adults of the species.

"The calf divides his time between nursing, following mom around, and napping, and that is exactly what a baby rhino should be doing," Mark Kamhout, mammals curator, said in a statement.

Rhinos are tricky to breed - the gestational period is 15-16 months and parents have "incredibly small windows for conception," Kamhout said.

"Together with the zoo's endocrinologists, we worked to pinpoint the exact window for Kapuki and Maku to get together for breeding," Kahhout said.

The mother and calf will be off display for a couple of weeks while they bond, the zoo said.

The Atlanta zoo saw the birth of its first-ever eastern black rhino earlier this month.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski)

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