Critically endangered baby rhino born at zoo, named ‘Kyiv’ in support of Ukraine

Our hearts continue to be with the people of Ukraine, who are facing an ongoing military invasion by Russian forces. While many citizens have fled the war-torn country, other people — and animals — remain in Ukraine.

At the Kyiv Zoo, for instance, zookeepers have stayed behind to take care of their animals, who are reportedly terrified of the sounds of explosions going on outside.

While there isn’t an end in sight to this heartbreaking conflict, other zoos around the world are standing in solidarity: after one Czech zoo welcomed the birth of an endangered baby rhino, they named it in honor of the people of Ukraine.

In the early hours of March 4, an Eastern black rhino was born at the Dvur Kralove zoo.

According to a press release from the park, the baby rhino weighed 33 kilograms at birth, and was “strong and healthy” and being cared for by his mother, Eva.

The birth gave the zoo something to celebrate at a very dark hour: exactly a week before, the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, a major crisis in a fellow European nation less than a thousand miles away.

So when it came to naming the baby rhino, they knew they had to show their support for Ukraine: they named the newborn “Kyiv,” after the Ukrainian capital.

“The name is an expression of our support for Ukrainian heroes,” said the zoo’s president Přemysl Rabas.

The Eastern black rhino is a critically endangered species, which makes the birth all the more special and important. The biggest threat to the species has been poaching: poachers seek out these rhinos due to their two horns, which are valuable on the black market. They also suffer from habitat loss.

According to AP, there are only about 800 eastern black rhinos left in the wild. And even in captivity, breeding is slow: this newborn marks only the fourth eastern black rhino birth in the past year.

Dvur Kralove has done their part to help repopulate this species, overseeing the births of 47 eastern black rhinos since 1971.

The zoo has shared updates about the rhino’s progress on social media, saying he is “doing well and drinking regularly.”

“Kyiv is doing well, gaining about a kilo a day. Currently weighs about half a meter,” they wrote earlier today.

We’re so glad that this extremely rare, critically endangered rhino is doing so well — and has been named as an inspiring tribute to Ukraine 🇺🇦

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