Risk factors associated with a skewed natal sex ratio in captive black rhinoceroses (Diceros bicornis) in the United States

Patricia M. Dennis, Paivi J. Rajala-Schuitz, Julie A. Funk, Evan S. Blumer, R. Eric Miller, Thomas E. Wittum, William J.A. Saville

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The skew toward males in the sex ratio of calves is considered to be a problem for the captive population of black rhinoceroses (Diceros bicornis) in North America. This study used a retrospective case-control design to determine whether there was a predisposition toward birth of male calves over female calves and to examine risk factors associated with the occurrence of any detected skewed natal sex ratio in captive black rhinoceroses in the United States. The study population included captive female black rhinoceroses housed in the United States that had given birth to at least one calf of known sex. This study confirmed a skewing of the natal sex ratio toward male calves in the captive black rhinoceros population. The skewed ratio was found in calves born to wild-born dams, for which an increased time in captivity, irrespective of age, was associated with an increased likelihood of a male calf. Dams between 12 and 19 yr of age had a decreased likelihood of a male calf. The data also suggested a possible trend for the southern subspecies of black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis minor) to be more likely to produce male calves than the eastern subspecies (Diceros bicornis michaeli). No associations were found with the sex of offspring in captive-born dams; however, this lack of association could be a result of low power in the study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-539
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Black rhinoceros
  • Diceros bicornis
  • Male calf
  • Skewed sex ratio
  • Wild-born dam

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • General Veterinary


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