A baby black rhino has been born in Yorkshire.

The calf, which is one of the rarest mammals in the world, is the first critically endangered black rhino to be born at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park (YWP) in Doncaster.

The three-week-old youngster, who already weighs 11st 7lbs (73kg), was born in January and spent his first few weeks in the rhino house with his mother, Najuma.

But rangers have now decided let him out into the three-acre Into Africa! reserve, where he stayed close to his mother as he explored the outdoors for the first time.

The park said that seven-year-old Najuma was pregnant for 15 months before giving birth, and this is an event of “great significance” as international conservation efforts continue to protect the species.

Both Najuma and father Makibo, eight, joined YWP in 2018 as part of an international breeding programme to save the species, which is classed as critically endangered.

'He's a bit like a toddler' 

Hoofstock Ranger Beth Phelan said: “His mum is probably the biggest eater in the house, in terms of rhinos, and he’s picked that up immediately.

“He’s a bit like a toddler – anything that’s edible he will put in his mouth, even though he can’t eat it, even though he’s got no teeth yet, he’s trying this out.”

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She said: “He is incredibly energetic, just like his mum.

“Obviously, she’ll be getting in a lot more sleep at the moment – with feeding him and looking after him – than she normally would.

“But, when she is sleeping, generally that’s the time that’s he’s running round the pen, he’s jumping on her, trying to wake her up, bothering her.”

YWP director of animals Charlotte MacDonald said: “The newborn calf is becoming such a character and bound to become a visitor favourite.”

'This is important as rhinos are critically endangered'

Dr MacDonald said: “This very special birth is fantastic news for everyone here at YWP.

“The news is particularly important because rhinos are a critically endangered species. The international breeding programme is very important for this species.

“Every birth is a milestone in our global conservation efforts. The aim is to ensure we are in a position to increase re-introductions into the wild.”

The park said that Eastern Black Rhinos are the rarest of the three remaining subspecies.

Between 1970 and 1992, their population declined by 96% to 2,300, largely due to poaching for their horns.

But numbers have now risen to around 6,000, following global conservation efforts,

The European Breeding Programme currently holds around 100 individuals in various wildlife parks and zoos.

Visitors to the park have donated thousands of pounds to the Wildlife Foundation, a charity based at YWP which has worked closely with Save the Rhino International and Fauna and Flora International funding projects protecting them from poachers and preserving their habitat.