Ale, the new white rhinoceros at the Cuban zoo

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 "it 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"tells AFP Alexander Arango, a technician specializing in exotic fauna and in charge of the park’s rhinoceroses.

Standing in front of a wide green plateau populated by different animal species, the specialist explains that he is "forming a genetic bank that can in the future" allow them "introduce some of these individuals in 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 a 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 her sister Mel, who came into the world in 2019.

The nearly 150 zebras, a dozen hippos, 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"Arango points out.

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– "brush with other animals" –

But unlike what he did with Mel, to Ale "uploaded it much faster" to the meadow, "I was better prepared"says the technician, who believes that only Alexander, Ale’s father, and the females of his group visited them at the place of delivery.

"when mel was born"It took longer to get it out. "The animals came down to meet her, the elephants came down, who were here, the other females came down to meet the calf, the ankoles came down because the birth really was on an animal and personal level, all the animals were interested in meeting her"he added.

With his 80 kilos, little Ale, who was born between 30 and 40 kilos, now runs after his mother, who takes him all over the meadow so that he has "friction with the other animals, so that it adapts to the visitors and the guaguas (buses)"says his caretaker.

"His name is Ale because his father’s name is Alexander, so he is his first son, so he was named 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 we already had" in the park before the Namibian rhinos arrived, which at one point stopped breeding.

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