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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

Lounging Poolside During the Homestretch of Pregnancy

Like most pregnant women in late summer,  Nikki can be found lounging in her private pool daily as her pregnancy comes to an end.  At 4,100 pounds, you can easily imagine the weight water’s buoyancy takes off Nikki’s aching bones.

relaxing in water

relaxing in water

Indian rhinos are the most aquatic of the five rhino species, so Nikki would normally enjoy dips in her 40-inch-deep pool.  The water is more appealing than usual when she’s carrying a 100+ pound rhino calf!  And, with temperatures outside reaching record highs in Cincinnati, and the pool set to a cool 55-60 degrees, Nikki finds herself spending more and more time in the soft waters of her hideaway.

Beginning October 1, Nikki will no longer have access to her pool, due to her approaching due date,  but for now you can stop by the Zoo and see Nikki daily, lounging by the pool and counting down the days to her due date.

What was your favorite way to stay comfortable during pregnancy?

September 9, 2010   2 Comments

Urine Collection and Analysis

Nikki gets a bath every morning to keep her fresh & clean.   During this time, keepers are usually able to collect her urine sample.

Collecting urine is important to keep track of the health of the pregnancy.  The samples help us monitor hormone levels without having to draw blood.  Rhino’s are big wimps when it comes to little needles, so non-invasive testing is always the better option for them.

Good news again today from Dr. Stoops – this morning’s test indicates that Nikki is still producing high levels of progesterone, and that comes from the placenta & the baby.  Everything looks great!  Early in the pregnancy, we did hormone testing every week.  Now it’s about twice a month.

Nikki's hormone levels are where they should be.

September 3, 2010   No Comments