In the middle of August at the Cincinnati Zoo it is hot, uncomfortable, and difficult to stay cool. Unless, of course, you’re a rhino. Sumatran rhinos, Suci and Harapan, are built to tolerate this muggy, hot weather. At least, their ancestors have adapted to it. In the wild, Sumatran rhinos find relief from the heat in wallows that have filled with rain water. These pools also keep biting flies and insects from bothering them. The rhinos frequent these wallows and put their own personal touch or signature on them by rolling, digging the sides, and likely spraying urine on the trees and vegetation nearby. These behaviors tell other rhinos and animals in the area that this wallow already belongs to someone and to please leave it the way they found it. Here in Cincinnati, Suci and Harapan also have their wallows and they put them to good (and frequent) use. It’s our jobs as keepers to keep the wallows, and all exhibit areas (inside and out), fresh and clean. Yes, clean mud is difficult to attain but necessary. We do this by adding fresh water daily and periodically adding fresh soil. In the wild fresh rain water is added almost daily and during the dry season a rhino will move on to another wallow near or closely adjacent to a stream.
Harapan, the handsome young stud born here in April of 2007, and who has spent some time in Florida and San Diego California over the years, returned here on July 3, 2013. His behavior indicates he is happy to be home. Most days he eats his first meal of ficus browse ( tree cuttings) and fruits and vegetables and then he saunters over to the wallow to get himself good and muddy. The unique part of his behavior is that he then goes into his pool for a quick rinse. Next he wanders inside and checks up on the keepers to see how our day is going. Then, repeats all the steps over again. People often ask zoo keepers if the animals “ know you “ or know they are back home. After this experience, I can honestly say Yes. Harapan is without a doubt happy to be here and we are happy to have him home.
‘ Till next time- Paul Reinhart, Cincinnati Zoo Ungulate dept.
6 thoughts on “Sumatran Rhino Harapan is Happy to be Home”
Thank you to all the rhino keepers who have taken such good care of the Sumatran rhinos here through the years. Your hard work is greatly appreciated.
One of my ongoing lifelong interests is in animal/creature characteristics, communications, personalities, habits, etc.–human as well as all other living things. Although trained in psychology and communication primarily to relate to humans, my life has been filled with many animals and creatures, thanks to my Father who was a livestock broker with heartfelt connections of a similar type. As I grow older, my joie de vivre is constantly rekindled thru animal contact. New interests have been stimulated by going with my grown children and grandchildren to the “New Zoo” because of all the ways you have devised to make better access available. I REALLY “love” and appreciate all that you have done, particularly with humanizing access and interaction wit the birds, insects, reptiles and other species with which in past times there was almost no direct contact. The Lorikeets and Lorikeet Landing are especially enjoyable. [I do, however, recommend that the very young helpers who are attendants at that exhibit be augmented with at least one more mature person who is better-acquainted with bird psychology and behaviors. I am reading a book, THE BLUEBIRD EFFECT: Uncommon Bonds With Common Birds by Julie Zickefoose ( Southern Ohio-Appalachian Area-Naturalist, Writer. See her blog.) which I believe would be liked by most people interested in birds, whether exotic or “backyard,” free or in Zoo.
I have to agree with what Rhonda said, I recently paid a visit to the zoo and the rhinos seemed legitimately happy and very well taken care of.
You guys are doing a great job, and you are making your city proud.
Keep up the great work!!
Brian at http://busamcincinnati.com
Harry was never at San Diego. He was transferred to L.A.