Black Rhino keepers have a big task on their hands teaching three of the Zoo’s Black Rhinos to stand still and parallel to a fence so that veterinary staff can take blood samples from the animal without using anaesthetics.
Getting a Black Rhino to follow a command is not an easy task and takes a lot of time, patience and consistency from their keepers.
Keepers use a tennis ball on a pole to assist with the training, asking the Black Rhino to touch the tennis ball with its top lip and as a reward the animal will receive a special food treat. This is called target training and once the Black Rhino has mastered this stage, training will then move to the next stage.
Keepers will then place the tennis ball on the Rhino’s leg and ask them to move their leg forward. This is to allow the vet easy access to the vein on the inside of the animal’s leg for blood collection.
Once the animal can complete the different actions when asked and stay still during the whole process the animal will then be ready to have a blood sample taken.
Being able to take regular blood samples will allow staff to monitor the health of the Zoo’s Black Rhinos even more closely and ensure they are always at an optimum level of health.