Jan 21, 2009

Our Year-End Update

Well, it is almost the end of the year 2008 which has rapidly approached at a frightening speed so we thought to give you an update on our bouncing babies and their progress!!
Double Trouble: 
Our two baby rhino that were rescued in the Kruger Park in September and October are doing really well.  They have both filled out nicely and are beginning to look like proper little white rhino now.  Their horns are just starting to sharpen and have broken through but they are still two, very gentle giant babies with hearts of gold.

Kuza and Satara (as they were named) are still accompanied by a babysitter at all times throughout the day and often they are found snoozing in the shade during the midday heat cuddled up to one of our volunteers.  They are now able to sleep in an outside enclosure at night together and have adjusted well to their new ‘bedroom’ (and Natalie our vet nurse can finally sleep in her own bed after two months on the clinic floor!) Despite Satara’s initial fear of mud wallows (having been stuck in a trough at a water hole in Kruger park in the searing heat all day before we rescued him) he and Kuza now happily play in their make-shift mud wallow and it is quite a sight to see our students covered head to toe in mud whilst playing with the rhino in their wallow!  We can’t quite decide who is having more fun!!!
The typical rhino ‘mentality’ of, ‘if I can’t fit through this gap I’ll just push until I can’ is coming into play already with these two!  We are desperately trying to keep them away from the accommodation area after our past experience of rhino’s and furniture! They also have a tendency to suck the piping off the sinks and when the students come to do their laundry the water gushes through the sinks onto their feet! It is quite something; however, to return home to two grey ‘innocent looking’ bundles fast asleep in the shade on your doorstep!!  
They are indeed a constant delight to all of us here as well as our visiting volunteers.  Most cannot believe their eyes when they arrive to see these two little guys strolling around in the garden perfectly content to be in each others company as well as making sure they have the protection and security of a two legged friend!  For the moment they are sweet natured and happy to interact with the visitors on our daily tours.  We wait to see their attitude as they grow and their little horns get sharper and longer!  But you cannot help falling in love with these hefty, four legged babies with (we have to admit) a rather limited brain capacity!! 
Two Furry Bundles: 
When our two tiny lion cubs arrived at the centre in October we had some idea of what we were entering into!  Brian (the manager) warned us of what we were taking on, however, at only 9weeks we are beginning to realize actually what we are ‘in for’!!  The two little fat bundles with huge bellies and fluffy little teddy bear faces have already grown into little bundles of mischief!  They have stretched out their little stomach’s and grown into young lions with beautiful features and the most stunning pairs of eyes you are ever likely to look into! 
But behind this gorgeous exterior is a will to destroy attack and investigate everything and everyone they come into contact with!!  The office has been turned upside down with their visits, nobody and nothing is safe from this playful pair!  Wires and cardboard boxes are an absolute favorite, and whilst we usually humor them with the boxes the wires have required quite some discipline.  They are also finally fighting back with their little friend Mitsy the Maltese terrier.  Whilst the play often becomes quite rough, Mitsy is too proud (it appears) to cry out and usually gets her revenge when the playful cubs have finally worn themselves out and take a snooze (usually inside one of the cardboard boxes)!!  Her favorite tactic is to grab one by the tail! much to the annoyance of the selected cub. 
This week the cubs had meat for the first time!  It was quite an exciting time, and a milestone for these two, which they were more than happy to reach.  Duma is always eager for his meat meals and finishes his off in lightning speed.  Telo, however, is more reluctant to enjoy his meaty meals and is taking some persuading!  We have no doubt; however, that in no time at all the pair will be working their way through many kilos of meat every week!
The determination to pounce on people, legs and children (usually family members at this point so as not to risk injury to visitors) is also requiring some discipline, and whilst we are well aware that they are still very young and everything is just a game, the claws and power behind these two is already incredible and needs to be controlled.  None of us can quite believe the strength, intelligence and mischief that this pair demonstrates, and we all have a new-found respect for these incredible creatures!!  We are already anticipating the chaos of Telo and Duma at six months!!  Students and visitors beware!! 
But in the meantime there is never any shortage of volunteers for babysitting duties, they romp and play and destroy throughout the day and we are quite proud to say we have two very contented little lions!!  We will keep you updated with their progress and antics as they get bigger and of course plenty of photos of this growing pair!!