AVONDALE, OH (FOX19) - The Cincinnati Zoo says one of its animals may win the title "Father of the Year."
And the black rhino isn't even officially a dad yet!
Faru has been donating plasma for its unborn calf, in case it has to be hand raised.
"We're banking plasma from Faru as a safety in case first-time-mom Seyia is not able to care for her baby," said Christina Gorsuch, Cincinnati Zoo Curator of Mammals. "The hope is that the calf will nurse and be raised by her mom, but some inexperienced moms aren't sure what to do with their offspring and humans have to step in to provide nourishment and warmth. If that happens this time, we'll be able to give the calf the best start possible, with help from her dad."
Seyia is due in July.
Typically, large blood volume collections would only be possible with an anesthetized animal, but that's not the case here.
"Thanks to our talented and patient operant conditioning team, Faru remains awake and voluntarily stands for blood draws," said Gorsuch. "Sometimes he cooperates for fifteen whole minutes. He seems to like all the attention and treats that he gets during the procedure."
The zoo has been working with Hoxworth Blood Center and the University of Cincinnati to collect and store the plasma.
"Just as there is no substitute for blood in humans, there is no substitute for blood in animals," said Dr. Jose Cancelas, Hoxworth Deputy Director. "Therefore we are pleased that we can use our expertise in helping to serve the animal kingdom."
Black rhinos, native to Eastern and Central Africa, have two large horns made of keratin that they use for defense, intimidation and feeding.
Fewer than 5,000 black rhinos remain in the world.