It’s a Boy! The World Celebrates as Sumatran Rhinos Delilah and Harapan Become Parents

Last weekend the Government of Indonesia announced the second rhino birth within two months at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) in Way Kambas National Park! 

First-time mom Delilah and her calf, born November 25, 2023. All images courtesy of the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

Minister of Environment and Forestry (LHK), Siti Nurbaya, announced that first-time Sumatran rhino mom, Delilah, gave birth to a healthy male calf on November 25, 2023. This birth was at least 10 days earlier than expected, so when SRS staff checked on Delilah Saturday morning they were surprised to find her already nursing the male calf. 

Keepers checking on Delilah and her calf. Each rhino at the SRS lives in its own 10-hectare, naturally forested pen.

Between the Way Kambas SRS in Indonesia and the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens in the U.S., there have been a total of eight Sumatran rhinos born under the conservation breeding program over the past 22 years. All previous births occurred between 470 and 479 days of pregnancy, but Delilah, who herself was born at the SRS in 2016, defied the norm by giving birth at 460 days – unassisted. SRS veterinarians and keepers have been able to do a full assessment of Delilah and calf and both are healthy and doing exactly what they need to be doing – eating, resting and bonding.

Harapan, a 16-year-old male Sumatran rhino living at the SRS became a dad for the first time on November 25, 2023.

The calf’s father is Harapan – a U.S. fan-favorite as he was the third and final calf born at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, and their last Sumatran rhino resident. Harapan made the 10,000 mile journey to the Way Kambas SRS in 2015 to become part of the breeding group there. After almost eight years of attempts, Harapan is finally a dad!

This birth isn’t important just for Harapan and Delilah, but for the breeding program as a whole – and the future of the species. Two years ago there was only one captive Sumatran rhino pair in the world able to successfully produce offspring. Now there are three pairs – six rhinos – who are proven breeders. The Sumatran rhino breeding program has never been in a better position than it is now. And with so much uncertainty about the status of the wild population, the captive breeding program is more important now than ever for the long-term survival of this species.

The success of this program is thanks to the dedication of many. The Government of Indonesia’s Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary is managed by the Rhino Foundation of Indonesia (Yayasan Badak Indonesia, or YABI), which has been a long-time IRF partner committed to the conservation of Javan and Sumatran rhinos. 

IRF thanks and congratulates the Government of Indonesia, YABI and the entire SRS team on this birth and the tremendous growth of this conservation breeding program. Additional thanks to all of our donors and partners for your support, and a special thanks to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens’s CREW for jumpstarting the Sumatran rhino breeding program and providing ongoing support for the conservation of this species.

Congratulations Delilah and Harapan!