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Preparing for Nikki’s baby

Beginning October 1, a team of Zoo Volunteer Observers (ZVO’s) will monitor Nikki on video screens in our CREW facility, as we get closer to her due date. The ZVO’s  will be on duty from the time keepers leave at night until they come back to work in the morning.  The video feed from the camera goes directly into a digital video recorder so the keepers and the CREW scientists can review the footage.

All eyes will be on  Nikki!

In addition, like all expectant parents, we have had to baby proof the rhino barn in preparation for Nikki’s calf.  Indian rhino calves weigh somewhere between 88 to 140 pounds at birth and can stand within 30 minutes of being born.  While generally wobbly at first, Nikki’s calf will soon be steady, on its feet, and busy exploring.  We can’t wait!

Just as human babies sleep in a crib to stay safe, we had to modify Nikki’s bedroom so it would be safe for her calf.  Our maintenance department made play-pen type bars to fit in between the already existing bars of Nikki’s stalls.  This way, the little calf can’t wander out and will stay safe and secure with mommy.

baby proof

Wendy Shaffstall, one of Nikki's keepers, checks the baby proofing.

A big shout out to our maintenance department for helping us get ready for Nikki’s baby!

Now, should we paint the rhino barn pink or blue?

September 29, 2010   7 Comments

Rhino Hormones

Beginning September 15,  zoo keepers started to decrease the daily dose of a hormone supplement Nikki has received throughout her pregnancy.  As a precaution, Dr. Stoops prescribed Nikki a progesterone supplement, called Regumate, when she verified Nikki’s pregnancy back in August 2009.  From day 18 of pregnancy until day 449, Nikki has been given a full rhino dose of progesterone supplement (34ml).  However, in preparation for Nikki’s impending birth, Dr. Stoops prescribed a daily dosage decline of 2ml  per day.

The hormone supplement is a liquid, so we dispense it into slices of bread and feed it to Nikki. She seems to enjoy it!  We make sure Nikki gets her daily dose of hormone prior to going out on exhibit each day.

By October 1, which will be day 465 of gestation, Nikki will no longer be receiving any hormone supplement.  We know from urinary hormone results conducted at our CREW facility that Nikki has been producing high levels of progesterone throughout her pregnancy.

Because the hormone assays CREW utilizes do not measure the form of progesterone that we have been feeding to Nikki, we know that in fact Nikki has been carrying this pregnancy all on her own.

Go Nikki!

September 20, 2010   2 Comments

Bath Time for Nikki

Keepers give Nikki a Bubble Bath

Keepers give Nikki a Bubble Bath

A girl loves her bubble baths & Nikki is no different.  Indian rhinos love water and are in fact great swimmers.  Although Nikki is given access to a nice deep pool in her exhibit every day, we make sure she gets good and clean with soap, water and a rhino washcloth.  Rhino keepers Renee Carpenter and Shelby Reichelderfer use Zafari Animal Wash, which is designed for rhinos, elephants and hippos, to lather Nikki up.  You can imagine the elbow grease it takes to get a rhino clean!

Nikki's skin

Skin Getting Scrubbed

Nikki loves her baths and likes to eat a snack of bananas, apples and carrots while she is bathing.  Her favorite part is getting a “belly brushing”.  Nikki’s bath moisturizes and conditions her skin and allows us to do a visual inspection and verify she looks healthy and happy.

September 11, 2010   2 Comments