Test-Tube Rhino Born at Budapest Zoo

Published January 24, 2007

| Associated Press

The world's first rhinoceros conceived by in-vitro fertilization has been born at Budapest Zoo, officials said in a statement on Wednesday.

The female baby rhino, born at 5:55 p.m. on Tuesday, weighed in at 128 lbs.

"The little one seemed active and vital. An hour after being born it stood up on its own legs," the statement said.

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The baby rhino has yet to be named, said zoo spokesman Zoltan Hanga, who added the zoo hoped to find a sponsor for her.

The mother, 26-year-old Lulu, had failed to conceive naturally, even when put with a male rhino named Easyboy.

A group of international veterinarians from Germany, Austria and Hungary started in-vitro fertilization and she finally became pregnant in 2005.

"An in-vitro fertilization was necessary because the two rhinos had not shown any sexual interest in each other," the statement said. "The two have rather developed a friendship, more of a relationship between siblings."

Since mid-December, rhino "caretakers" have been monitoring Lulu's progress around the clock.

After giving birth, the proud mum has been protective of her newborn but has so far failed to nurse the baby. The zoo said she had also turned aggressive, but added an initial refusal to feed was natural with inexperienced mother rhinos.

Until Lulu gets the hang of things, the baby rhino is being fed by zoo workers.

The baby rhino was carried for 16 months and 15 days, which is normal.

In a couple of months, by early spring, the zoo's new addition will appear in public for the first time, Hanga said.

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