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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

Eating for Two

hay for nikki

Carrying Hay for Nikki

Commissary keeper Michael Berry came by this morning and dropped off produce and hay to rhino keeper Renee Carpenter for Nikki.  The Zoo’s commissary delivers fresh produce to the rhino barn every day and hay is supplied twice a week.  Because rhinos eat a lot of hay, today we unloaded a lot of it!

Nikki eats bamboo leaves

Nikki eats bamboo leaves

Nikki has an important job to do, not only is she pregnant for 16 months, but she will give birth to a 100-lb baby!  Our Curator of Nutrition, Barbara Henry, specially designed a balanced diet to make sure Nikki gets all the nutrients she needs during her pregnancy.  Indian rhino are herbivores or vegetarians.  In the wild, Indian rhinos eat grass, fruit, leaves, branches and aquatic plants.  They use their prehensile lip to curl around branches and bring them into their mouth.  Nikki’s daily diet consists of ¾ of a bale of timothy grass hay (34lbs), 10 lbs of specially formulated nutritionally complete herbivore pellets, 6 apples, 6 bananas and 6 carrots.  Nikki is also given special treats during training or medical procedures, like ultrasound exams.  These treats include horse apple oat biscuits, alfalfa hay and Nikki’s absolute favorite…..PEANUT BUTTER.

September 10, 2010   6 Comments