Sunday, January 30, 2011
We're at the rhino barn at The Wilds near Cumberland, Ohio.
Three-month old southern white rhino Anan wanted to show how sporty she is, how fast she accelerates.
Anan moves out at a smart trot. Rhino feet are so soft and springy they look like they're wearing bedroom slippers full of Flubber.
If the 40 degree weather bothered them, they didn't show it. They seemed to love the sun.
When I visited South Africa in August, it dropped into the 20's each night. Yes, it gets cold there! But their winter quarters at The Wilds are well-lit and very warm.
I couldn't get enough of this little rhino child.
I did let myself think about what might happen if I got between a wild mother rhino and her child.
You wouldn't want to do that. Mother Zenzele, not to be outdone by her charming child, banked sharply and charged right at us, obviously enjoying the way we all leapt back as she swerved at the last minute. "This," one of the keepers said, "is why we keep them behind four-inch steel bars."
I marvel each time I visit The Wilds that here in southeast Ohio, not even an hour from my home, endangered animals are being wonderfully cared for, multiplying
acting as insurance for wild populations, reservoirs of precious genetic material
the most precious coin of conservation's realm.