WASHINGTON—Hailing the birth as “probably a huge step forward for wildlife preservation,” officials at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo participated in an awkward celebration Tuesday after Xiang Bao, the zoo’s female endangered giant panda, gave birth to Casper, a healthy 73-pound baby northern white rhinoceros. “Xiang Bao had been struggling to conceive, and only about 50 white rhinos still survive, so this is great news, we think,” rapidly blinking senior curator Bryan Amaral said in a press conference following the culmination of the closely followed panda pregnancy, emphasizing that, despite the unusual circumstances, the rhino calf was perfectly fine. “Both animals appear to be in excellent health, and Casper is taking to his environment nicely. This is definitely great for northern white rhinos, and probably doesn’t hurt pandas either, and although we’re having the sort of issues with nursing that you might expect, I think we can just go ahead and chalk this up as a ‘W.’” In recent developments, zoo personnel was intrigued to find Panda Cam footage confirming Xiang Bao conceived the rhino with Big Wendy, the zoo’s 160-year-old female Galápagos tortoise.
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