On Monday March 6, 2007 thousands to people who had been closely watching Sita, a rare black Rhino were kept waiting no longer.
Sita was at the end of her fifteen month pregnancy at the Paignton Zoo in Devon, England. In the weeks leading up to the birth a number of special cameras were set up so that people from around the world could keep watch on Sita and watch her give birth live on the internet. The cameras that were used were the same ones used in the UK’s Big Brother house.
Thousands of people were tracking the progress of Sita on the BBC website, some even losing sleep for fear of missing the birth. On Monday night Sita began to look uncomfortable sparking excitement amongst the Sita watchers that she was about to give birth. The Site watchers didn’t have to wait long. On Monday night at 8:10pm GMT the Sita watchers got the chance to finally see what they were waiting for. Sita gave birth without a problem live on BBC’s internet site.
At first there was a little nervousness regarding the health of the calf as it lay motionless on the ground. But soon the fears were alleviated when the calf was seen blinking. The new calf, a girl didn’t rush to get on to her feet and happily lay on the ground taking in her surroundings. However after five hours it was necessary for the calf to be up so she could feed. So zookeepers stepped in and gave her a helping hand and the new calf took her first steps in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
This birth is not only significant because it happened live on the internet. It is also significant because it adds another number to the very rare black rhino population. Black rhinos are so are that they are listed as critically endangered and are one of the world’s most endangered species. In the 1990’s the black rhino population was at it’s lowest with only 2,400 believed to be alive.
In order to film Sita’s birth and broadcast it live to thousands of people around the world through the BBC’s Devon website used special remote controlled infrared cameras that had to be installed in Sita’s paddock. A high speed line was sponsored by British Telecom so that the images could be streamed live over a broadband connection.
When Sita’s calf was born hundreds of messages were sent in to the BBC’s Devon website wishing Sita well and asking after both mother and baby’s health. The new calf has yet to be names and members of the public are welcome to send suggested names to the zoo.