splash, splosh! Rhino calf Gabe enjoys a messy mud bath at Chester Zoo.
Chester Zoo’s two-month-old black rhino calf, Gabe, has been
enjoying his first ever mud bath.
The bolshie youngster
was seen slipping and sliding in the mud as he charged around with 13-year-old
mum, Ema Elsa.
Kim Wood, assistant team manager of rhinos at Chester Zoo, said:
“Rhinos love nothing more than to roll around and play in fresh mud and it was
great to see Gabe charge right in and enjoy getting messy.
“With the start of spring bringing in some warmer weather, wallowing in mud is
great way for our rhinos to cool off and it also helps to keep the rhinos’ skin
nice and healthy. We really do give them the five star spa treatment!
“We’re really pleased with how Gabe is developing. He’s gaining in
confidence with every passing day and helping us to raise more awareness of the
terrible plight that his species is facing up to in the wild where, sadly, the
Eastern black rhino is being illegally hunted to very edge of extinction.”
Black rhino populations have dropped by more than 95%
over the last 50 years due to a global surge in illegal poaching for their
horns, which continues to devastate the species.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the
animals as critically endangered since 2000 - their wild numbers currently
estimated at just 740 across Africa.
“There is increasing demand for rhino horn in
some Asian countries where it’s believed to have healing properties, even
though it’s made mainly from keratin, the same material as fingernails. It’s
pushed its value through the roof – rhino horn fetches more per gram on
the black market than both gold and cocaine. As a result, rhinos across Africa
are being slaughtered on a daily basis. After having their horns hacked off,
they are left to slowly die.
“Rhinos have been on our planet for five million years and it’s absolutely
imperative that we do whatever we can to protect them. We must not let them
become just another addition to the ongoing list of magnificent animals to
become extinct in our lifetime.”
Chester Zoo is one of just a handful of
institutions in the world that is working with conservation organisations in
Africa - including Save the Rhino International and the International Rhino
Foundation - to ensure the long-term survival of rhinos in the wild. Areas of
the zoo’s support, both through funding and through the provision of its
expertise, include Tsavo, Chyulu and Laikipia in Kenya and Mkomazi in Tanzania.
The zoo is also responsible for carefully coordinating the breeding programme
for the species in zoos across the whole of Europe, which is working to
maintain a genetically viable insurance population of the species.