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SOS Rhino : In the News : White rhino fails Ladies

White rhino fails Ladies

  Tuesday, January 20

MAYBE Leeroy's dad never told him about the birds and the bees.

Or maybe he has never watched the Discovery Channel.

But one thing's for sure, this white rhinoceros at Werribee Open Range Zoo sure had some problems with the ladies.

Part of the zoo's white rhino breeding program, Leeroy was less than a stud when it came to wooing the horns off the female rhinos.

Rhino keeper Brooke Squires said Leeroy, who had been raised in captivity, had no trouble getting started but he had no idea of, well, where to put it.

"He knew exactly how to flirt and get the females attention but because he was raised in captivity he had absolutely no idea when it actually came to it,'' Ms Squires said.

"He was putting it in their ears and eyes, everywhere except the right spot."

"He even lost about 400 kilos in five months, rampaging around like he was a stud bull, but nothing ever happened."

White rhinos, which were classified as endangered as little as five years ago, are now considered a vulnerable species with 2700 left in the wild and 240 in captivity.

"Trying to maintain a natural rhino breeding herd has been an uphill battle over the past 23 years for the staff at Werribee Zoo."

"Rhinos are particularly hard to breed because it's hard to reproduce their social environment in captivity," Ms Squires said.

"Rhinos have a 16-month gestation period, so they only produce a calf once every two and a half years at the best."

"Just putting a male and female rhino together in captivity won't necessarily work, they actually tend to form more of a sibling relationship."

Twenty years in the making, the first calf, Ganini, was born and joined seven other rhinos who call Werribee Zoo home and it was not Leeroy who came up with the goods.

"It took Lee, a two and a half tonne rhino raised in the wild, to come in and know what to do," Ms Squires said.

"Ganini was the first white rhino born in Australia in 15 years so it was a great achievement."

"But we probably have at least another 18 months to go until we see another little rhino calf."