New Essex boy ‘Otto’, Moves in to Woburn Safari Park for Some Overdue White Rhino Romance
It's the rhino equivalent of online dating, as Woburn Safari Park's keepers get ready to set up their Southern white rhino female, Makusi, with a new romantic date this Valentine's Day.
Otto, her prospective suitor, is a visiting male rhino to Bedfordshire's spacious wildlife park, where keepers are pinning their hopes on it being a 'love match' as part of the European Endangered species Programme (EEP).
Otto comes on loan from Colchester Zoo, via a specialist animal transport company and two industrial sized cranes to help him move in!
Woburn’s keepers are delighted by the arrival as the Park’s existing male rhino resident, Kai, has so far been unable to impress Woburn’s female rhino residents or produce any offspring.
In a bid to spice up the rhino romance at the park, Essex boy Otto was chosen for his reputation as a love heavy-weight.
Weighing in at 3.5 tonnes of pure Romeo, Otto has a track record for being a ladies man and leaving behind him a string of rhino calves as evidence of his past 'romantic' liaisons.
Woburn Safari Park’s matchmaker keepers hope that the arrival of new love interest, Otto, will also spark some competition from resident male rhino Kai, urging him to step out of the 'friend zone' with the female rhinos and grab some attention for himself.
Kai has been seen getting territorial since the arrival of his competing suitor, with lots of male swaggering and urine-spraying to mark his territory, as he deals with his jealousy issues.
However, Makusi and her close gal pals, female rhinos Mtubatuba and Mirijam, have so far been quite aloof with the newcomer.
Otto is going to have to try harder to impress Woburn’s feisty females, and time will tell whether he will fare better than Kai.
The Southern white rhino species is found across southern Africa and faces many threats in the wild, but in particular from poaching which has escalated in recent years and is being driven by demand for rhino horn in Asian countries.
Saved from the brink of extinction by intensive conservation efforts, this rhino species is now classified as 'Near Threatened' by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature)
Chris Smart, team leader in Reserves at Woburn said: "We are delighted to welcome Otto, the Southern White rhino, to the herd living at Woburn.
"His arrival is really important for the conservation of these majestic animals and we're really excited to see him settle in alongside the females.
"We are all hoping that the girls are receptive to his advances and his time at the park results in successful breeding."
Pics:Bridget Davey Photography