A 6-week-old greater one-horned rhino calf appears to stick his tongue in the ear of his new playmate, an 8-month-old Ankole calf, at the Ione and Paul Harter Animal Care Center at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park earlier today. The pair, introduced three days ago, is still getting to know each other but animal care staff at the Safari Park hope they will become longtime companions.
The male rhino calf, named Chutti, was born on Nov. 27, to a first-time mother in the Safari Park’s Asian Plains exhibit. The mother nursed and cared for her newborn for almost two weeks, but keepers realized he wasn’t gaining weight as he should. To provide the calf with the optimal care to thrive, he was brought to the Safari Park’s animal care center where he is being hand-raised.
Since the rhino is being raised in a nursery setting, it is important for him to get daily exercise and have companionship. The female Ankole calf, affectionately named Moo Moo Kitty by keepers, was born on May 23 and also was born to a first-time mother that couldn’t properly care for her calf. Keepers hand-raised and recently weaned the Ankole, and they felt she would make the perfect companion for the little rhino since both are social animals. If Chutti and Moo Moo Kitty bond, they could be companions until the little rhino is weaned in 14 to 15 months.
Visitors to the Safari Park may see these unlikely playmates at the animal care center nursery corral between 1 p.m. and 1:45 p.m. daily, weather permitting, and possibly other times throughout the day.
Photo taken on Jan. 9, 2015 by Dustin Trayer, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.