The newest addition to the rhino family at Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens has been named Belle and she is the fifth white rhino to be born at the collection.
However, Belle experienced difficulty when being born, which led to complications with her leg. The animal team at the park had no choice but to remove the newborn from her mother Nancy after it became clear that the new calf couldn’t walk properly.
To find out what had happened X-rays were taken but these showed no evidence of a break or dislocation, so nerve damage was suspected. The calf was then sedated, which is a risk in itself, and the injured leg put in a cast for a week to allow the nerve to heal properly.
It was clear that the calf could not be reintroduced to mother Nancy as she was not yet able to walk with the cast. Her erratic behaviour would have agitated Nancy, putting her in an extremely dangerous and potentially fatal situation.
Belle needed twenty-four hour care and it was decided she should be bottle-fed while in recovery. This meant keepers needed to feed Belle every few hours, including her 3am feed.
Over the next few days, Belle became stronger but needed constant supervision from keepers and vets at this stage in what was essentially ‘rhino physiotherapy’. Belle was given the correct exercise levels to build up strength and ensure the nerve damage had sufficiently recovered.
Since then, Belle has made a full recovery and was successfully re-introduction to her mother Nancy and the rest of the rhino family recently.
To view footage of Belle venturing outside for her daily exercises click here
The white rhino is a conservation success, but was once the rarest species of any rhino and on the verge of extinction. In the early 1900’s it was believed only some fifty animals remained in their native South Africa. Thanks to excellent and sustained protection, they are now the most common of the five rhino species, although poaching in the last five years has once again escalated to serious levels. Three of the five rhino species – the black, Javan and Sumatran – are critically endangered.
To find out more about visiting Cotswold Wildlife Park go to www.cotswoldwildlifepark.co.uk