Posted on 25th September 2018 by Media Relations
Training and conditioning is an important part of how we as keepers care for our rhinos here at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo. Having a strong relationship with the animals is important when it comes to training and it’s essential the rhinos trust us, so we spend time every day building rapport with each of the rhinos we care for. Through our training and conditioning programs we are able to have the rhino’s work cooperatively with us, allowing us to get up close to the animals safely when the need arises for veterinary treatment or monitoring when pregnant or unwell.
This goes a long way when it comes to making sure our rhinos are healthy. The Black Rhino keepers have worked hard with the nine Black Rhinos that call the Zoo home. Black Rhinos are a flighty, nervous species by nature but our Black Rhinos are comfortable coming up close to keepers for food or a scratch, but more importantly for health checks, and keepers are even able to conduct blood tests if required. Keepers have also conditioned the female Black Rhinos to allow our resident vets to give them an ultrasound. Back in 2016, during one of these routine ultrasounds, we were very excited to get the very first glimpse of a little heartbeat and were able to confirm that our female Kufara was pregnant with her first calf!
A lot of time has also been spent training and conditioning Dora, our Greater One-horned Rhino. When Dora was young he had some problems with cracks in the souls of his feet, a common problem for this species. Through lots of hard work, dedication and patience his keepers are now able to have Dora present his feet for daily pedicures and foot soaks to prevent this from happening in the future.
These are just a couple of examples of how important training and conditioning is when it comes to caring for these big animals, along with the role their keepers play in ensuring they are healthy. This effort that the keepers put into their animals means that we are able to offer them top notch care without the need for more stressful and invasive veterinary procedures.
By Tarryn Williams