Some very precious animals are being celebrated far and wide in appreciation of World Rhino Day today [September 22].
At Werribee Open Range Zoo, six Southern white rhinos charged into a specially arranged wall of boxes on the Zoo’s savannah – designed to challenge them both physically and mentally. Meantime, the Zoo’s international conservation partner Rhino Fund Uganda is celebrating the recent arrival of two rhino calves.
Savannah keeper Laura Harbridge said the rhinos at Werribee Open Range Zoo thoroughly engaged with their enrichment wall, which was filled with treats of hay.
“Keepers constructed a cardboard ‘kujenga’, which means ‘to build’ in Swahili, that provided a fun opportunity for the crash of rhinos to literally crash into and interact with,” Ms Harbridge said.
Animal Training Coordinator Kelly Hobbs said keepers were always looking for creative ways to provide stimulation and learning experiences to enhance the physical and mental health of the Zoo animals.
“Our role as zookeepers is to provide change for the rhinos, so that they can discover and explore new items, smells, sounds, textures and experiences,” Ms Hobbs said.
“The rhinos at the Zoo regularly engage with natural enrichment such as logs or branches. But enrichment opportunities like today also help motivate the rhinos to investigate new stimuli and actively use their bodies as they would in the wild” she said.
Across the globe in Africa, Southern white rhino calves Rhoda and Jabali are being celebrated following their births last month. The pair were born at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary as part of Rhino Fund Uganda’s conservation program, which aims to recover the country’s population of rhinos.
Zoos Victoria assists Rhino Fund Uganda by supporting the rangers who provide 24/7 care and monitoring of the species in the region.
Ms Hobbs said Zoos Victoria was proud to support Rhino Fund Uganda through its international partnership.
“The arrival of two healthy rhino calves is a fantastic outcome for the conservation of the threatened species,” she said.
Southern white rhinos are under serious threat in the wild from illegal poaching due to an escalating demand for rhino horn. It’s estimated that there are less than 20,000 Southern White Rhinos remaining in the wild.
The rhinos at Werribee Open Range Zoo form part of a regional breeding program to maintain an insurance population in the fight against extinction.
World Rhino Day is an annual global event which aims to generate awareness about the threatened species.
While Werribee Open Range Zoo is temporarily closed to members and visitors, animal lovers at home can stay connected with the Zoo’s lions through Zoos Victoria’s live stream cameras at www.zoo.org.au/animals-at-home.