Behan and Zhiwa

by ZSL on

Charlotte Lancey, Trainee Keeper – Large Hoofstock, had the privilege of looking after baby Zhiwa for the first month after she was born. She tells us more about our new arrival, how she’s grown in confidence – and size – and the best time to see her...

Baby greater one-horned rhino, Zhiwa, at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Zhiwa was born on Saturday 7 December 2019 in the early hours of the morning at 5:02am, which was a lovely surprise for the keepers first thing!

Behan (Mum) is an experienced mother and with Zhiwa being her fifth calf she was very relaxed the day before and the night commencing. She has continued to be calm and this has made Zhiwa a very confident miniature. 

This has been my first rhino calf to work with and I had the absolute pleasure of caring for Zhiwa for her first month with us at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. She has grown in confidence day by day and come into her own.

Zhiwa is a very strong, stocky and magical little rhino weighing 70kg at just four days old and took her first steps into the big outside world at just two days old. To begin with, she was Behan’s shadow and never left her side. But as the days went by, the invisible boundary got bigger and bigger, which was wonderful to watch.

After a week, there was no such thing as a boundary anymore and she began charging around the yard and the public began to enjoy her presence as much as we did.

Dad Hugo has watched in the distance and was unsure of what to make of the tiny rhino running around at first, but he seemed very excited to meet her with his vocalisation and head bobbing. Zhiwa and Hugo are in separate enclosures, but have started having more nose to nose contact. She’s more interested in running circles around Behan though! 

Mum and daughter are currently kept inside over-night and given access back outside at about 8:30am until 3-3:30pm when they go in for evening. The best time to visit Zhiwa is around 12-2pm as this is when you’re likely to see her at her most active. 

Greater one-horned rhinos Behan and Zhiwa at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Greater one-horned rhinos are a part of the European Breeding Programme (EEP) so every breeding success is a massive high for us keepers. Their horns, despite being much smaller than the white and black rhinos, are still for sale on the black market. It’s still an ongoing threat for this magnificent species with the population as few as 3,500.

ZSL is part of anti-poaching projects and since 2015 small cooperatives have been created to educate the local communities on better farming management. Due to the help from ZSL, illegal grazing is down 30% and over 60km2 of grassland is under improved management. 

Visit baby Zhiwa at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo 

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