Thursday 31st May 2018 in the early morning, square-lipped rhino Naomi met its father for the very first time at the vast savannah plains of Burgers' Safari in Royal Burgers' Zoo, the Netherlands. The Arnhem Zoo is very experienced in introducing rhinos. Nevertheless, it can never be predicted how father reacts during the first meeting with its calf. Fortunately, mother always keeps a close eye on the little rhino and intervenes whenever she feels the adult male gets too close to the calf. Brave and courageous Naomi, however, showed no fear at all for her father, weighing almost 3,000 kilos! She even pushed him around for a while, being backed by her 2,500-kgs-mother and her almost-two-years-old elder brother, weighing approximately 900 kilos.
The little female rhino, three months of age, had lived for several weeks at the vast savannah plains together with the adult females and their young. The square-lipped rhinos share their enclosure with giraffes, zebras and several species of antelopes. Exactly as in nature, adult males live a solitary life. Father remained in a large enclosure behind the scenes, just until young Naomi felt perfectly comfortable at the savannah plains and litteraly grew a little bit more 'solid' (nowadays, her weight is estimated at around 200 kilos). Mother Kwanzaa performed a couple of sham attacks, after which father took off. He continued to life his solitary life at the savannah plains, only showing interest in the adult females when they are in heat: exactly as in nature.
Together with only a handful of other European zoos, Royal Burgers' Zoo profiles itself as a very successfull breeder of square-lipped rhinos. Over the last 18 years, 8 square-lipped rhinos have been born and raised in Royal Burgers' Zoo, the Netherlands. At the moment, a herd of seven rhinos lives in Arnhem: one adult male, three adult females and three of their young in different ages. Comparing this to a total birth rate of only 11 calves in all of Europe in 2017 and a birth rate of only 16 calves in all of Europe in 2016, Burgers' Zoo takes the lead in the European breeding programme (EEP) for this endangered species.
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