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Cuddling a Rhino

Friday, July 08, 2011 2:34pm
digger 01 450w.jpg digger 02 450w.jpg

G’day again from the land of Digger.

Since our last blog things have been going along nicely. Uhura, Umqali and Digger have been residing in the Contact Boma most days which suits Digger just fine. They have had the odd day off to allow our bull, Ibutho, the chance to run around and stretch his legs. He has taken a real shine to his ‘aunty’ Uhura who is now the best play toy ever. Digger calls out to Uhura every time they are separated but as soon as we put them back in together poor Uhura is bombarded with head butts, mock charges and horn fighting. Umqali is happy for this to happen as it seems to take the pressure off of her but after a while she too becomes tired of the games and runs roaring towards Uhura to tell her play time is well and truly over. Poor Uhura. But Uhura knows full well how it works as with the past two calves she has been the mother and our previous female Mopani was the playful aunty, and this is all part of a rhinos’ life.

Digger has continued to grow at full pace and a few weeks ago we managed to get our first weight on this little tank. This was no easy feat as every time Umqali and Digger have walked over our scales and down the race they tear at full pace from one end of the race to the other. Nothing would stop them, not even a handful of lucerne hay placed in front of Umqali.

BUT... all that changed and we found the way to little Digger’s heart. CUDDLES, CUDDLES and more CUDDLES. Yes that right, this guy, like the calves before him, is a sucker for a little scratch and a cuddle. So one Monday morning as they came charging full pace down the race we managed to stop Umqali momentarily off the scales and Digger was coaxed forward with the offer of an out stretched hand and the promise of cuddles. As it turned out Digger weighed in at 155kg, not too bad for a 6 week old. And this week yet another weight was taken and at 8 weeks of age the little man had reached 193kg.

Now that he knows just how good a scratch and cuddle can be life has been a little different, for keepers and Digger. Every time he sees us he runs over to the fence for his special treatment. Umqali is happy to oblige and watch for a small fee of lucerne hay.

We have taken full advantage of this newly found love and started some basic training with the little guy. He has started opening his mouth on command, lifting his feet, sitting down and even laying down. The only problem being he loves being scratched on his belly so much that once he is laying down he has no intention of getting back up. Keepers are finding it just as hard to tear themselves away as he is  But with a face like this how could you blame us.

Until next time...

Ungulate Keeper Monarto


Is the baby rhino now on view to the public?
Posted By: Verity Arthur on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 6:57pm
Yes he is, and for an extra special look you can join a Rhino Behind the Scenes tour.
Posted By: Zoos SA on Thursday, July 14, 2011 9:45am

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Page Last Updated October 27, 2010, 2:37 am