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At the end of last summer I wrote about training Klyde, our male black Rhino, to happily enter a crate, so he could travel to his new home and hopefully produce a bouncing baby rhino calf.
But when Klyde left he also left us with an empty exhibit and a hole in our heart. He would come down to our encounter area each and every day allowing visitors to have an up close experience, watching him do his training behaviors. All could appreciate how strong and intelligent he was, how all 3,450lbs of him moved effortlessly, and how truly magnificent he was. He was after all the mascot of the zoo, the rhino in our logo, who could ever fill this void or even come close to replacing him?!
Enter Seyia! This three year old adolescent and southern bell came to us from her birth zoo in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Leaving her mom and the only keepers she has ever known, this brave little lady arrived at the Cincinnati Zoo in late Aug of 2013. In a few short weeks she went from being timid and little nervous, of all that was new, to her to relishing her keepers and exhibit. When she found the mud wallow for the first time you could physically see the joy and excitement on her face.
Adjustment period flew by for her and quickly she was ready to learn more than just her exhibit and keepers. She was ready to start training! Marjorie, her main keeper, had a list for us to begin training from. The first was for Seyia to lean her body against the poles of her enclosure, so she could be bathed, skin checked and oiled, and just for an overall good evaluation of her health. We couldn’t believe how quickly she caught on to asking her to move over. Then we added asking her to place her front foot on a block so we could begin doing foot care, she figured this out rapidly too! The first time the “light bulb” went on, she lifted her foot so high we were laughing about her overzealous nature to please. The next hurdle was teaching her to lie down. Imagine asking a 2,400 lb animal to place herself in the most vulnerable position, in front of hundreds of visitors. She is now doing this reliably out on exhibit during her training sessions!
Smart is not all Seyia has going for her, she is also very sweet natured and craves attention from her keepers. So much so she began calling to them, something black rhino’s are NOT known to do. Marjorie and I decided it would be an incredible experience for patrons to be able to hear this animal actually make a sound. So we began capturing the behavior and now she will “speak” on command. She is still a little unsure how loud we want her be outside, but inside she is quite happy to be loud all day! Her vocal call is such a different sound. Some compare it to a whale, others to a bird, and some say it sounds like a child’s kazoo. The best part is this spring and summer you will be able to hear her, see her, and watch her train with Marjorie in her exhibit!
April 7, 2014 2 Comments
Guest blogger: Crissi Lanier, Interpretive Media Intern
There are five species of rhinos in the world – Javan, Indian, Sumatran, Black & White. Three of these species, Indian, Black and Sumatran, reside here at the Cincinnati Zoo. Do you know how to identify them and where to find them? If not, read on and test your rhino knowledge on #WorldRhinoDay this Sunday, September 22.
Sumatran Rhino: Our sibling Sumatran rhinos, Harapan & Suci, have been in the news lately because they are the only two of their kind in North America and, as such, are key to the survival of this critically-endangered species. They are in neighboring enclosures in Wildlife Canyon, where you can see them doing their favorite thing — getting muddy!
The Sumatran rhino’s most distinguishing feature is the reddish-brown hair that covers most of its body. It’s the smallest of all rhino species, standing about 4-feet high at the shoulder and weighs about 1,500–1,800 lbs. Like both African species, it has two horns.
To read more about the Sumatran Rhinos from past blogs click here.
Black Rhino: Our female black rhino, Seyia, is new to the Zoo and getting used to her surroundings in the Veldt. She will make her public debut soon. Her predecessor, Klyde, was transferred to the Sedgwick County Zoo for breeding a few months ago. Learn more about the crate training that made Klyde’s move smooth.
Although this rhino is referred to as black, its colors vary from brown to gray. The black rhino is also referred to as the hook-lipped rhinoceros because of its prehensile upper lip. It has two horns but can sometimes develop a third.
Indian Rhino: We have two female Indian rhinos, Nikki and Manjula. They are in separate enclosures in our Veldt, with Nikki often found lounging in her pool and Manjula making appearances when she feels like it!
The Indian rhino, also called the greater one-horned rhinoceros and Indian one-horned rhinoceros, has only one horn! Nikki’s is a bit worn down because she likes to rub it on trees and rocks. This heavily built species can weigh up to 8,000 lbs and has thick, silver-brown skin, and very little body hair. Its upper legs and shoulders are covered in wart-like bumps.
*Sumatran rhinos are considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They are native to Sumatra (Indonesia), Borneo and Malay Peninsula.
*Black rhinos are considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN. They are found in various parts of central and southern Africa.
*Indian rhinos are considered Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They are found in Nepal and India.
All of these rhinos need our help to survive for future generations. You can A.D.O.P.T. them to help aid in their daily care and enrichment, visit the Zoo on #WorldRhinoDay, talk to volunteers at the CREW stands about current research and more.
September 17, 2013 1 Comment
Klyde’s crate training was a success! He walked right in this morning and is now safely on his way to Sedgwick County Zoo.
Klyde’s two main keepers, Marjorie and Randy, will be accompanying him on the drive to his new home, where he will get to meet his new girlfriend and keepers. They are not willing to let him go it alone. They will also have the opportunity to teach the keepers that will be working with him all of his behaviors and favorite foods, toys, and treats. Even though this is going to be a HUGE transition, Marge and Randy are making it as smooth going as possible.
Last week had ups and downs for Klyde and the staff in the Veldt. Klyde went from many good days in a row to having a few days that set him back. When an animal get set back, you have to return to the stage that they are willing to work with you and then move forward again. Usually the progress is a faster progress than the first time, at least that’s what most trainers bank on!
Little things could have set Klyde back, from someone starting a blower on the path way below him, as he first enters the crate in the morning, to a cart driving by. New noises, smells, and sometimes the unknown will make an animal decide that something it has been doing reliably for days is no longer alright. When you are training animals, patience is a virtue and a requirement.
When Marge let me know that Klyde was starting to regress, we talked about the pros and cons of how to move forward. We decided to go back to plan A and back to when he was successfully coming in and comfortably staying in. Instead of adding people to the outside making noise around the crate, something he will have to deal with, once he is in the crate for his move, we decided it would be more beneficial to get him used to someone standing on top of the crate, as this will be imperative to shutting the back door of his crate.
Many days were spent getting Klyde comfortable again with coming in, including allowing him access at night. Once he was back on track we added a piece of plywood to the top of his enclosure so someone could stand on it, and not totally scare him. Then we had one keeper go up top, before Klyde had access to the crate area, and a second keeper called him in. This way Klyde was able to get used to hearing a voice from above him as well.
All of this work resulted in a smooth transition into the crate. Bye Klyde! We will miss you.
May 20, 2013 2 Comments