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SOS Rhino : In the News : White rhinos breeding success for safari park

White rhinos breeding success for safari park

  May 5 2006

By David Higgerson Daily Post Staff  

IN ITS native Africa, the white rhino is considered an endangered species.

But thousands of miles away from the plains of Zululand, one family of rhinos is giving cause for celebration.

At Knowsley Safari Park, the second baby white rhino to be born in a year has arrived, and a third one is also expected quite soon.

The strapping bull calf has been named Kifaru, derived from the Swahili word for rhino, and both he and mother Meru are doing well.

The arrival of Kifaru this week coincided with the first open-air appearance of Binta, Knowsley's first-ever female white rhino calf, who was born last November.

Binta spent the winter months living up in the rhino house with mother Piglet.

But the arrival of the warm weather has allowed Binta to be released into the wide open spaces of Knowsley's 200-acre paddock ... resulting in the first of many mudbaths.

Knowsley Safari Park General Manager, David Ross, said: "Every birth at the park is exciting but the arrival of a 'big baby' like this one is a particular cause for celebration.

"I am sure the two calves will become firm favourites at the park in much the same way as visitors have enjoyed the mischievous antics of our elephant toddlers, Ashanti and Nala."

Kifaru's arrival increases the park's "crash", or family, of rhinos to eight with two breeding bulls, three breeding cows and an elderly cow in addition to the babies.

And there is hope that a third rhino calf will be born before the end of the month.

After a gestation period of 485 to 515 days they give birth to a single calf weighing 50to 60kg while an adult can weigh three tons.

Yet they can run up to 32mph and have excellent hearing and smell to compensate for poor eyesight.

The white rhino, which is much larger than its black relative, is the second largest land mammal in the world after the elephant. When fully grown, they can weigh up to three tonnes. The name of the species does not derive from the colour of the animals but from the Afrikaans word "wijd", meaning wide, which was misinterpreted as white by early settlers in Africa.

The word relates to the white rhinos' wide, square mouths which are ideal for grazing. A less common name for the species is, in fact, the square-lipped rhinoceros.

Knowsley Safari Park's 36th summer season is now under way. Officials have high hopes that they can equal last year's figure of 500,000 visitors.

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