The relationships our keepers have with the rhinos in their care is so important. From a young age keepers work closely with our rhino calves, developing a strong bond and relationship between the two. Keepers have been undertaking hands-on training and conditioning with Black Rhino calf Dafari and Greater One-Horned Rhino calf Rajah since their birth. The training consists of getting the calves comfortable to come over to a fence and stand whilst a keeper provides a rub or a scratch, to get them used to the feeling of being touched.
Following on from the hands-on tactical sessions, keepers perform regular husbandry routines with the rhino calves including ear, eye and mouth checks, foot care and scrub downs and even provide medication when required. The rhinos are relaxed and at ease during their husbandry routine due to the training and conditioning keepers undertake with these animals, and the trust and bond the keepers have with the rhinos.
This training and husbandry routine benefits the animal through providing essential care but also mental enrichment through learning new behaviours and further developing that bond with their keepers.