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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

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