The Aspinall Foundation

Introducing Rhino at Port Lympne - or, Rhino Speed Dating!

Posted by The Aspinall Foundation on 28-Sep-2015 00:00:00

Port Lympne Reserve has an impressive breeding record with Eastern black rhino.  Nick Turk – Deputy Head of Rhino Section at Port Lympne explains how it’s done.

Profiles

Sammy, born at Osaka zoo in Japan is a 15 yr old bull rhino in his prime. He’s big and strong with an especially muscular neck.

Nyasa, a 10 yr old female was born here at Port Lympne. She is our largest rhino, weighing in at around 1300kg.

Solio is a small 14 yr old female but what she lacks in size, she makes up for in spirit. Incidentally she was the first rhino I saw born here at Port Lympne and one of my favourites.

It was time to introduce the three rhino to each other. Sammy is a bouncy enthusiastic rhino when it comes to first contact with the ladies and he was already sharing a paddock with Solio.  Romance had quickly blossomed between them over the last couple of months.

As they were getting on so well, we thought we could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, by introducing Nyasa into the mix.

Day 1

Normally we introduce rhinos using a gate or a single fence so they can get used to each other slowly, but in this case we felt we could speed up the process as Sammy is a bit of a softy when it comes to the ladies.  Nyasa, is a proven heavy weight and has already produced several calves, so we felt confident that she could easily hold her own, if things got a little rough!  

We let her in the paddock with Sammy and Solio, and watched. Sammy displayed to her, scraping at the ground with his horn and feet (a show of strength).Nyasa soon put Sammy in his place with her snorts and grunts and he soon calmed down, allowing Nyasa the peace and quiet to explore her spacious new home, meeting up with Solio along the way.

Female rhino introductions are generally straight forward because the girls don’t have anything to prove and the two girls soon settled down together.

Day 2

The second day was a slightly different story. It started with the usual bluster, Sammy showing how big and strong he is and Nyasa snorting back at him, resulting in him running away. After his initial retreat, Sammy manned up and persistently followed and approached Nyasa – much to Nyasa’s dismay.  Eventually he got tired of being told off, and charged at her. They went horn to horn pushing and hitting each other. Sammy then took the initiative and managed to hook her under the front legs and using his superior strength lifted Nyasa off the ground! At this point she knew she couldn’t win, and to prevent injury she backed off. Things settled down quite quickly after this and all three rhino went about their business.

Day 3

Things went much smoother today because Nyasa and Sammy have developed a healthy respect for each other.  Nyasa allowed Sammy to get closer to her and eventually they were nose to nose, smelling each other and gently blowing into each other’s nostrils – romance was definitely in the air!

In the days that followed everything was going swimmingly.  All three rhino were feeding, exploring and even lying next to each other- real signs of contentment and relaxation. By day six, Sammy was mounting Nyasa. So with everything crossed, maybe next winter we will hear the pitter patter of tiny hooves.   

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