He's less than a month old and already, the Lincoln Park Zoo's newborn rhino is "King of our hearts."
The endangered black rhino calf made his public debut Tuesday before a crowd of people so delighted by his cuteness, a few fought to hold back tears.
(See photos of King below.)
"I tried not to cry because it was so exciting," Dr. Rachel Santymire, director of the Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology told DNAinfo Chicago. Dr. Santymire told the site, "The poaching pressure the species is facing is just enormous ... So, to bring another one into the world is just amazing — and he’s just so cute.”
Named after King Harris, a longtime Lincoln Park Zoo supporter and member of the Board of Trustees, the calf has already grown from 60 pounds when he was born late last month to a healthy 130 pounds.
Zoo officials described him as "a little timid at first" during his debut, but said he was soon trotting around with mom Kapuki, 8, and sniffing out new scents.
King's birth was no small matter when he came into the world Aug. 26. Eastern black rhinoceroses are a critically endangered species and King was the first one born to the zoo in 24 years.
“Breeding programs at zoos are of crucial importance to the survival of these remarkable animals, particularly as the numbers in the wild continue to dwindle,” said Mark Kamhout, Lincoln Park Zoo curator of mammals, in a release. “King will serve as an excellent ambassador for his species.”
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