Keepers are excited to see Black Rhinoceros Kufara’s pregnancy approaching the end of her gestation. This will be Kufara’s first calf and keepers are maintaining a close watch on her both behaviourally and physically to ensure a smooth birthing experience.
As expected with pregnancy hormones, Kufara frequently displays behaviours of ensuring her surroundings are safe and her main focus is protecting her unborn calf. With positive rapport interactions involving food or tactile touching from her keepers as well as establishing set routines, keepers can remain in close contact with her for observation and monitoring. Keepers have been undertaking this throughout her pregnancy but now in particular as she nears the end of her gestation. Her weight has increased almost 100kg over the gestation period and abdomen is looking quite rounded now.
Lots of preparations are made in advance to ensure everything is ready for the calf to arrive. To ensure the birth process and Kufara’s bonding to the calf is as positive as can be, we move other rhinos from her immediate surrounds to other yards in the complex and set up CCTV cameras to monitor both mother and calf. Limited keeper interaction will occurs in the first few days after Kufara gives birth. Just a quick check on her to provide food, check her and the calf’s health, and her maternal behaviours. Then keepers work on increasing time spent around mother and calf.
By Black Rhino Keeper - Linda Matthews