Posted on September 22, 2020 at 9:00 AM by Blog Author
Today is a special day to celebrate rhinos with awareness, education and support. Read more about this special day from our Conservation partner, the International Rhino Foundation.
Eastern black rhinos are solitary animals. Females being the exception, offspring typically stay with their mothers for up to 18 months after birth. Blank Park Zoo is currently home to one male (Kiano) and three females (Ayana, Tumani and Kamara).
Through the AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP) it was determined that Kiano and Ayana would be a good breeding match. In 2016, Ayana gave birth to Tumani with Kamara following in 2019. Pre-COVID Tumani was matched through the SSP program with a mate and was scheduled to start her journey to the next stage of her life. Like most things this past spring COVID changed all of that. Due to travel restrictions, Tumani will stay at the Blank Park Zoo a while longer.
With this news, our Large Mammal Animal Care Team decided that the three females should be brought together. After much care, dedication and research the team felt confident that this process would go smoothly and it did!
The Large Mammal Animal Care Team at Blank Park Zoo reached out to different zoos across the globe to find out new ways to better the welfare of our rhinos; At Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in the United Kingdom house their calves together and Cleveland Zoo has a unique setup with two moms and their calves. We felt confident we would be able to mirror this setup with Ayana, Tumani, and Kamara, due to the constant access they have through the exhibit fences. We began our introduction with just Tumani and Kamara so they would have time to figure out their social dynamic. We were able to add Ayana to this group after the first session went unremarkable. Aside from Kamara standing up to Tumani several times the first few days, they did amazing! Ayana is a very laid back mom so she spends the majority of her day hanging out eating, which has helped the introductions go smoothly. She let the two youngsters figure out how to play together on their own without causing any extra aggression. The girls can now be seen on exhibit together every day during the day eating and sleeping together!
Male rhinos only come together with females for mating purposes in the wild. Kiano can be found in the yard adjacent to the main exhibit where he is still able to interact with the girls.
It's been really fun to watch the social dynamic change and allow Tumani the opportunity to interact with Kamara. They have begun to play on their own and Tumani is always instigating a play session with Kamara.