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Denver Zoo rhino calf celebrates 1st birthday Monday

Joona is the first greater one-horned rhino to ever be born at Denver Zoo.

DENVER — Joona, Denver Zoo’s greater one-horned rhino calf, is celebrating her first birthday on Monday, Feb. 22.

To mark the occasion, the public is invited to attend a birthday party at 10:30 a.m. at the Toyota Elephant Passage.

The first greater one-horned rhino to ever be born at Denver Zoo, Joona's birth made international headlines a year ago.

Born to mom, Tensing, Joona’s birth was the result of a collaboration between multiple institutions. Experts from Denver Zoo and Cincinnati Zoo's Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) conducted 11 unsuccessful artificial insemination procedures with Tensing from 2014 to 2018.

Tensing was finally confirmed pregnant following a 12th artificial insemination procedure and voluntary ultrasound 10 days later, said Denver Zoo. The Zoo welcomed Joona to its family 16 months later on Feb. 22, 2020.

Joona’s name, which means “joyful” and “treasure” in Nepalese.

The greater one-horned rhino, also known as the "Indian rhino," were pushed the the brink of extinction by the start of the 20th Century, when the wild population dwindled to around 200, according to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF).

Today, the WWF estimates wild populations have increased to around 3,500, and have described the resurgence as being "among the greatest conservation success stories in Asia."

“The birth of this calf is the result of a truly heroic effort by our animal care, health and science teams and partners from other zoos to support the species,” said Brian Aucone, Senior Vice President for Animal Sciences last year.

“It’s a significant event for several reasons, including the fact that this is the first greater one-horned rhino born at Denver Zoo, and because it was another very important step in reproductive science for animals in the wild and human care,” Aucone said.

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