Month old rhino calf, Ekozu, has had his first day out and about on the safari drive-through at West Midland Safari Park.
After some gentle coaxing from Mum, six year old Ailsa, the cute youngster was soon seen charging around, enjoying his first steps on the green grass of the four-mile safari.
True to white rhino behaviour, Ekozu spent most of his first day out close to his mother, but always moving slightly ahead of her, so she could keep a watchful eye on him whilst she grazed.
Another trait of rhino calves is the mimicking of their mother’s behaviour — a vital learning technique to help with their survival. On this occasion, it was the skill of using their distinctive broad, flat mouths to eat grass. After a few mouthfuls, Ekozu decided that his mum’s milk was definitely the better option!
Deputy Head Keeper of Ungulates, Lisa Watkins said, “After his first three weeks bonding with mum, meeting Ailsa’s best friend Keyah and getting used to the outdoors in the paddock, it was an exciting day to let Ekozu out into the African Reserve. Ailsa has been an exemplary mum, showing Ekozu around the reserve and keeping him safe by her side. White rhinos can communicate vocally and we could hear Ekozu making lots of cute squeaking sounds. The sounds relate to when he is excited, curious or just calling to Mum.”
She added, “Our next step will be to introduce Ekozu to the rest of the herd over the coming weeks. We then plan for Ekozu and Ailsa to be out every day, weather dependent, either in the African Reserve or in the rhino paddock at the end of the safari. Hopefully visitors will get the chance to see him running about and meeting the other animals.”
Southern white rhino face a huge threat in the wild due to habitat loss and more commonly, poaching. At the last count, only around 20,000 wild southern white rhinos remained and in South Africa alone, 1,175 were killed in 2015.
Ekozu is the first baby rhino to be born at the at the tourist attraction in the last decade — the last was the baby’s dad Barney, who was born in 2005. He makes up the number of rhinos in the crash to six.
The rhinos can be seen in the four-mile self-drive safari, included in the standard admission charge of £22.00 for adults, £17.00 for children aged 3-15 years and £20.00 for concessions. Children under the age of 3 years are admitted free of charge and admission includes a free-return ticket. Adventure Theme Park rides are charged extra.
Further information is available from the Park’s official website www.wmsp.co.uk or by telephone 01299 402114. You can follow the progress of the baby rhino on the Safari Park’s official Facebook page: http://www.wmsp.co.uk/facebook