Webcam watcher alerts Blair Drummond safari park staff as rhino goes into labour

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A WEBCAM viewer in Cyprus alerted safari park staff in Scotland that their rhino was giving birth.

• Keeper Ailsa West with her namesake. Staff were alerted to the birth by a webcam viewer. Picture: PA

The revelation came as the calf ventured out of its heated house for the first time yesterday.

Dorothy, a southern white rhino, was spotted going into labour by a Cypriot animal lover on 21 December.

The viewer quickly contacted Blair Drummond safari park near Stirling to let staff know – and within minutes, baby Ailsa had arrived in the world.

Ailsa is the latest addition to a small family of the breed at the wildlife park. She joined ten-year-old Dorothy yesterday on an excursion around the enclosure with her keepers.

It was previously too cold for her to wander into the covered outdoor enclosure used by the rest of her family.

She happily ran around the area and was given weight and health checks by keeper Ailsa West, after whom she was named.

As she is still very young, she will not be fully mixed with the rest of the herd for a few months.

Parents Graham and Dorothy already have one calf – Mazumba – but they bred again as part of a European programme to boost the species population and widen the rhino gene pool.

The southern white rhino is the most common species of rhino on the planet, but it is still threatened, with a population of just 14,500 worldwide.

Ailsa will spend the early years of her life at Blair Drummond, before moving to another zoo in Europe to breed.

Ms West said Ailsa had a "highly unusual" start in life. She was born at noon and rhino calves are usually born in the early hours of the morning.

Ms West said: "Today was her first public viewing. It went really well. She was a bit confused at first, but she soon got excited and was bounding about all over the place.

"She is very sweet. She's quite quiet, but she has a cheeky look in her eye. It is quite strange to have a rhino named after you. I don't meet that many people with the same name as me anyway, so it is strange to hear people using my name to talk about a rhino."

Ailsa will make more public appearances when Blair Drummond opens to the public at the end of March.

&#149 It has emerged that a disorientated man walking on North Sea pack ice was rescued when he was spotted by a woman viewing a sunset on a webcam.

The man had ventured out on the ice off the north German coast to take a photograph of a sunset near the town of St Peter-Ording, and then found himself unable to find his way back to shore, a police spokeswoman said.

The man used his camera to flash for help, which caught the attention of a woman hundreds of miles away in southern Germany who was watching the same sunset on her home computer.

The woman contacted police.