The four weeks old square-lipped rhinoceros Wiesje met the giraffes, zebras, and antelope for the first time on Friday, 8 September. These animals all live in the Safari, together with the rhinos. The young female was initially cautious of the other species, but, as expected, her caution soon changed into curiosity. The first meetings were held under the watchful eye of her two thousand kilos weighing mother Izala. Despite years of experience introducing young rhinoceroses, it always remains to be seen how the first introduction to the other animals in the Safari goes.
Just a few days after birth, the young rhino was allowed to go outside with her mother. At first, it was only a question of getting some fresh air on the courtyard directly adjacent to their housing. Soon, a second step followed, the large outdoor enclosure behind the screens. After that, the caretakers carefully allowed, first one and then a second, adult rhinoceros into the enclosure, mainly to see how mother would react. Mother is very protective of her newborn. Once this became familiar, mother and young were slowly introduced to the complete group of rhinoceroses, except for the adult male. The young female will meet her father in a couple months’ time. Until then the adult male will remain behind the screens in the outdoor enclosure. Like in nature, a male rhino lives a predominantly solitary life.
Plan of action on D-Day
Early in the morning, caretakers placed bales of hay at the rhinoceros feeding area on the plane. Then, they let the rhino group out, except for the adult male. This way, the young rhino walked to the feeding area under protection of the entire group. The other animals –giraffes, zebras, and antelope– were released on to the plane more or less simultaneously by their caretakers from the opposite side of the rhinos. The other animals slowly, but surely came over to curiously take note of the young rhinoceros.