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Rhinos Chopper and Bertha Together in Habitat

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Zoo guests can watch the calf learn to be a rhino.

Rhinos Chopper and Bertha Together in Habitat

Chopper the rhinoceros calf with Bertha. Photo courtesy of Greg Swyden/New Mexico BioPark Society.

April 12, 2013

Chopper the rhino calf is learning about being a rhinoceros from one of the ABQ BioPark's experts--Bertha, the 28-year-old female. Over the past month, zookeepers have introduced the pair and helped Chopper adjust to spending his days with another rhino. They are now on exhibit together each day from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., weather dependent.

Because Bertha raised her own calf (Loulou), keepers were hopeful that she would accept Chopper. Patient and gentle Bertha bonded with the rambunctious little calf, and they rotate between yards together.

"Chopper is learning how to be a real rhino," said Rhonda Saiers, Hoofstock Manager. "He bonded with our staff immediately because he is bottle fed several times a day. Now, he has started to bond with the adult rhinos, too. He is learning how to forage and act like a rhino. Bertha has been very tender towards Chopper, keeping her horn still when Chopper approaches, and she doesn't seem to mind when he practices his charging on her sides."

Still drinking around 6 gallons of Creamland milk per day, Chopper now weighs 804 pounds. He will drink milk for another 6 - 8 months before he is fully weaned. As he continues to learn natural behaviors from Bertha, he will become familiar with hay and grass, which make up the bulk of adult rhino diets.

Zookeepers will continue to work on introductions between Chopper and the other adults, Loulou and Bernie. Guests can see the rhinos and learn about the threats they face around the world at the Africa rhino yard, which is included with regular zoo admission. For more information, email [email protected] or dial 311 locally (505-768-2000).

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