Image © Bobby-Jo Clow/Taronga Western Plains Zoo

The team at Australia's Taronga Western Plains Zoo is celebrating the birth of a greater one-horned rhino – the first of its species to be born on Australian soil!

First-time mother Amala gave birth to the tiny male calf on October 25, and according to zookeepers who are keeping a close eye on the duo, both animals are doing well.

“We have seen the calf suckling and although it is still only days old, we are extremely happy with the situation so far, and absolutely thrilled to have this new addition on the ground,” says zoo's Jennifer Conaghan.

The birth comes after many years of dedicated work from zoo staff, who have been working on the rhino breeding project since it began in 2009. That's the year Amala was relocated from the Los Angeles Zoo to join resident male Dora from Nagoya Higashiyama Zoo in Japan. 

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is home to three species of rhino (black and white rhinos from Africa and the greater one-horned rhino from Asia). “We’re the only zoo in Australia to have three species of rhino, and three successful rhino-breeding programmes, so critical for these species that are all threatened in the wild,” says director Matthew Fuller. 

Greater one-horned rhinos are listed as Vulnerable on IUCN's Red List, and with only an estimated 2,700 animals left in the wild, it's hoped that breeding projects like this can play a role in boosting numbers.

"We’re serious about wildlife conservation, and this birth gives us some hope to celebrate that there can be a future for all rhino species," says Cameron Kerr,  Executive Director of the Taronga Conservation Society Australia.