COLCHESTER Zoo’s newest addition has been given a royal seal of approval after its name was officially unveiled by King Charles III during his visit to the city.

The Stanway facility became home to a southern white rhino calf back in January when mother Astrid gave birth after a lengthy gestation period of 16 months.

Her name was finally revealed by none other than the King and the Queen Consort as part of their trip to Colchester Castle.


The King unveiled a plaque revealing the baby's name to be Dara, meaning beautiful in Swahili.

Town crier Robert Needham announced the new name to the crowds gathered outside the Castle.

Before the name unveiling, The King and The Queen Consort met representatives of Colchester Zoo to discuss a variety of conservation projects as well as educational, research and breeding programmes that the Zoo are proud to be involved with.

Echo: The name was announced by town crier Robert NeedhamThe name was announced by town crier Robert Needham (Image: Steve Brading)

Animal Care Team Leader Jo Burch shared her knowledge and passion for the rhinos she cares for at Colchester Zoo with The King and Queen Consort.

Jo said: "Since the birth of this bundle of joy, the youngster has come on leaps and bounds – literally.

"Mum, Astrid, has to keep up with her little one as she runs around everywhere and is just like an excitable puppy.”

Echo: The King and Queen Consort unveiled the name outside Colchester CastleThe King and Queen Consort unveiled the name outside Colchester Castle (Image: Newsquest)

As a parting gift and to commemorate meeting Their Majesties, Colchester Zoo presented them with an engraved camera trap that could be used on Royal Estates to monitor wildlife, along with a Rhino cuddly toy.

Prior to Dara's arrival, devoted Colchester zookeepers had been on hourly night-watch duty, due to being unaware of the exact date on which the new rhino would arrive.

But on the morning of January 13, Astrid the white rhino - a Near Threatened species - gave birth to what is her second calf following a relatively quick labour.

Weighing 66kg, the adorable new addition to the Colchester Zoo family was deemed strong and healthy, but initially struggled in her search for vital milk.

After two days of having to be assisted, however, the tiny rhino eventually started to drink from Astrid all by herself and has since enjoyed zooming around her enclosure.

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