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SOS Rhino : In the News : Rhino waiting for a partner for 25 years

Rhino waiting for a partner for 25 years


By: Lajwanti D’Souza
June 17, 2003

Shiva is a healthy, handsome, 25-year-old, but he’s had surprisingly rotten luck with finding a mate.

That he has a tail and four legs is a minor detail. The only rhinoceros at Jijamata Udyan, Byculla, is a lonely animal today, as zoo authorities’ repeated requests to other zoos around the world for a mate for him have yielded no result.
According to K Vellodi, garden superintendent at the zoo, they have been sending out requests for over two decades.

“ We have sent numerous letters to various zoos, but there has been little or no response. Also, as there is a ban on procuring animals from the wild for zoos, it makes it imperative that we acquire one only from another zoo,” said Vellodi.

Brought from the Assam zoo as a baby, Shiva is a favourite with zoo attendants. And although rules stipulate that all animals must have a mate as it is “good for them”, Shiva hasn’t let the absence of one get him down too much.

He is a ‘people’s animal’ and seems thrilled with the attention lavished on him by visitors.

He bounds to the periphery of his enclosure as soon as he spots someone and stands gazing at visitors for hours.

Speaking about Shiva’s single status, Dr S Karawale from the zoo said since rhinos live for 50 years or more, Shiva would still have the capacity to mate for a few more years.

Meanwhile, zoo officials continue with their unceasing endeavour to find a mate for him.

Rhino breeding

• Males reach sexual maturity at the age of 9 years, and females at 4.
• Breeding occurs throughout the year. Only dominant bulls mate.
• After a gestation period of 480 days, a single young one is born weighing around 70 kg.
• Weaning usually occurs within one year, but could sometimes last up to 18 months.
• Females have young ones at intervals of about three years.
• A week before the next birth, the female chases away her previous calf.

Indian Rhino

The Indian rhinoceros has one horn and has skin with loose folds, which make it appear armoured. These characteristics distinguish it from the African rhino.

It weighs 1,600 kg (female) - 2,200 kg (male) (3,500-4,800 lb).

The Indian rhino has been found in a number of habitats, including marshy lowland and reedbeds, tall grass or bush.

The Indian rhino mainly eats grass, reeds and twigs, feeding mostly in the morning and evening. It is usually solitary and spends long periods lying in water and wallowing in mud.

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