HAVANA, June 24th With 80 kilos, little Ale, who was born from 30 to 40 kilos, now runs after his mother, who takes him all over the meadow so that he has “friction with the other animals.
The newborn is the second such specimen to be born in 18 years at this theme park. (Photos: AFP)
Ale, a baby white rhinoceros, who was born on June 9 in Havana, walks curiously with his mother Katherine through the meadow of the National Zoo of Cuba, whose managers seek to contribute to the preservation of this species threatened by poaching in Africa.
The birth “has a very great value above all because we are helping, Cuba is contributing its grain of sand to the conservation of this species that is so threatened,” Alexander Arango, a technician specializing in exotic fauna and in charge of the rhinos, tells AFP. from the park.
Standing in front of a wide green plateau populated by different animal species, the specialist explains that a gene bank is being “formed that may in the future” allow them to “introduce some of these individuals into national parks in Africa”, where the species is highly affected. by poaching that feeds the lucrative business of the horns of these mammals for Asian markets.
It would be retribution to the region where Katherine and Alexander, Ale’s parents, who were part of a donation of 10 rhinos from Namibia, came from in 2013.
The newborn is the second specimen of this type to be born in 18 years in this theme park, located on the outskirts of Havana. The first was his sister Mel, who came into the world in 2019.
Opened on the outskirts of Havana, the theme park has seen the birth of three specimens of this type in 21 years. The last one had been his sister, Mel, who came into the world in 2019.
The nearly 150 zebras, a dozen hippos, and two giraffes, among other animals that inhabit this zoo meadow, met Ale just a few days after her birth, when Katherine climbed a hill with him, from the secluded end she chose to childbirth.
The day the new calf was born, Katherine went alone to that place to give birth, without the park technicians intervening. “We wanted everything to be as natural as possible,” says Arango.
“Rubbing against the other animals”
But unlike what she did with Mel, Ale “was raised much faster” to the meadow, “she was better prepared,” says the technician, who believes that they were only visited at the place of birth by Alexander, Ale’s father, and the females of his group.
“When Mel was born,” he took longer to get her out of it. “The animals came down to meet her, the elephants came down, who were here, the other females came down to meet the calf, the ankles came down because the birth really was on a level, both animal and personal, all the animals were interested in meeting her,” he added.
With his 80 kilos, little Ale, who was born weighing 30 to 40 kilos, now runs after his mother, who takes him all over the meadow so that he has “a touch with the other animals so that he adapts to the visitors and the guaguas (buses)”, says his caretaker.
“She is called Ale because her father’s name is Alexander, so she is her first son, so she was given the name Ale,” explains the technician, who has the same name.
With eight white rhinos and four black rhinos, the National Zoo of Cuba has one of the largest exhibit groups of these mammals among zoos in Latin America, says Arango proudly.
“The idea was to resume reproduction, among other things, and refresh blood”, introducing “new genes to the population that we already had” in the park before the arrival of the Namibian rhinos, which at one point interrupted their reproduction.