Ekozu, the baby southern white rhino at West Midland Safari Park, is celebrating his first birthday and keepers have treated him to a big birthday gift.
As an extra special treat, a giant cake was constructed, made of hay, apples, cabbage and carrots, all covering a carefully made, cake-shaped cardboard base. Keepers had an inkling that Ekozu would enjoy demolishing the cake as much as he would enjoy eating it!
The cute youngster was happy to share his amazing gift with Mum, seven-year-old Ailsa and looked to her for encouragement, before approaching the strange new object. The pair have been inseparable since Ekozu’s eagerly awaited birth on 25 March, Good Friday, last year.
His birth was highly celebrated by staff as he was the first baby rhino to be born at the Park since his dad, Barney, ten years previous. Also, it marked a success for the Park’s breeding programme of the species. Southern white rhinos are listed as ‘near threatened’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. This is partly due to habitat loss, but more commonly, poaching for the illegal trade in rhino horn.
Head Keeper of Ungulates, Lisa Watkins, said, “Ekozu has given us an amazing first year with lots of laughs with his cheeky ways. His keepers are delighted with how well he is getting on and Ailsa has done an amazing job of raising such an adorable character. He loves his food and in his first year has grown from 67.5kg to just over 400kg.
“It was nice to see him enjoying his birthday cake and sharing it with mum. It will be Ailsa’s first Mother’s Day the day after Ekozu’s birthday so it was only right she got some tasty treats too. We can’t wait to see what mischief he will get up to this year.”
Presenting and preparing food in various ways is part of an animal keeper’s job, as it provides enrichment for the animals in their care, as well as ensuring they are receiving a varied and nutritious diet.
Ekozu is part of the Park’s crash of six white rhinos, made up of four females and now, two males.
The rhinos can be seen in West Midland Safari Park’s four-mile self-drive safari, included in the standard admission charge of £23.00 for adults, £18.00 for children aged 3-15 and £21.00 for concessions. Children under the age of three years are admitted free of charge. Admission includes a voucher for a return visit or safari gift. Adventure Theme Park rides are charged extra.