rearing rhino orphans, it is important to:
- Replace the Mother Figure with several Keepers, so
that the baby will follow more than one person and
will not be reliant on just one, which will lead to
problems should that person have time off.
- Protect the calf at night for the first three
years, initially in a small stable, and later on in a
spacious Stockade. Place an article of the Keeper's
clothing in with the calf so that the familiar scent
- Bottle feed a small calf four hourly throughout
the day, but not at night, the last milk feed being at
6 p.m. When the calf is older and beginning to nibble
on vegetation, anchor suitable cut greens within the
stable at night and also offer a bowl of bran in which
minerals are mixed as further supplementation.
- Walk a calf around dungpiles and urinals of the
established wild community on a daily basis from dawn
until dusk giving it time to investigate scent trails
and contribute to the dungpiles. Allow it to eat the
dung of the other animals (which all rhinos do) and
which establishes the stomach bacteria needed.
- Take the calf to water and a mudwallow on a hot
day so that it can drink and then lie and roll in the
mud. Plaster the body in soft mud, which seals
moisture in the skin, protects the animal from biting
insects and sun. Mud is part of good skin care in all
animals that do not have fur.
- Move a growing calf into a spacious Stockade at
night once it has outgrown its Nursery quarters,
because large animals become claustrophobic if
confined too closely. Be sure to take its dung and
establish a dungpile within the new quarters and also
have a Keeper handy to calm the animal. Rhinos are
creatures of habit and routine, and any break in the
daily routine or happening is traumatic.
- When the calf is 3 or 4 years old, the Stockade
doors can be left open at night, so that the calf can
venture out and make physical contact with the other
rhinos if it so wishes, but it is important that it
can return to something familiar ("Home Base")
whenever it feels the need to do so. By then, it will
no longer be dependent on its Keepers, but will always
respond to them. For instance, when Scud, as an adult,
returned home injured, only her erstwhile Nursery
Attendants could handle her.
N.B. Little rhinos are very playful, but must learn
the boundaries of acceptable playfulness around humans.
Therefore, discipline must be meted out in early infancy
whilst a calf is small, initially with a sharp tone of
voice and then the word "NO", and if necessary it can be
reinforced by a prod on the nose from a small electric
Cattle Prod powered by two torch cells. Rhinos are very
easy to discipline, and are not normally disobedient in
the same way as are elephants, so the electric prodder
will only have to be used probably once or twice.
However, whenever a rhino begins to gallop around
playfully and becomes excited, it is a good idea to keep
well out of the way!