Kipenzi reaches new milestone

23 April 2014

As Southern White Rhino calf Kipenzi nears her first birthday, staff at Werribee Open Range Zoo are preparing for her next big milestone, full contact with the adult rhinos.

Kipenzi was born on 30 May last year and Vets and Keepers have been hand-raising her since birth.

While Kipenzi has had some health challenges along the way she is now weighing in at almost 380kg and doing well.

The young rhino calf spent the first months of her life at the Vet hospital before moving to the rhino facilities to begin her introduction to the herd, a slow and delicate process conducted over many months.

During this fence-to-fence contact a bond began to form between Kipenzi and the female rhinos, particularly between Kipenzi and her mother Sisi.

Keepers were able to slowly increase the duration this fence to fence contact as Kipenzi and Sisi developed their relationship.

After months of protected fence to fence contact, Kipenzi is now ready for the next milestone in her development – open contact in the same enclosure with mother Sisi,

In the next few weeks Vets and Keepers will supervise this first introduction, which will be quite short. Depending on their behaviour, they will gradually increase the amount of time that they spend together over a number of weeks or even months until they are at a stage where they can stay together overnight.

It’s an exciting milestone for Kipenzi and while there always risks involved when introducing a hand-reared calf to an adult, the team have prepared extensively for this next step in the introduction process.