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Extreme Rhino Love

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

January 14, 2012 was the Ohio Ornithological Society's annual Winter Raptor Extravaganza at The Wilds, a 10,000 acre conservation breeding and research facility about an hour north of us near Caldwell, Ohio. It's the largest such facility in the world. Here. In Appalachian Ohio.  Breeding southern white rhinos better than anybody else. Can you hear my buttons busting?

Baby charges!! Eek!! The crowd scatters!

One of the supercool things The Wilds' staff does when we come to bird there is to let us into the rhino barn, where these tropical animals spend cold winter days. (They let them out to gallop around on mild days).

Lovely Tricia West gets her hands on a southern white rhino. Everyone was transformed by the nearness of these incredibly gentle and kind animals. Such smiles lit up the barn!
Some people commented on the smell, a horsy odor with strong notes of pig.

Some people never took their fingers off their pinched noses. But she loved every minute, anyway.

And one person (and I ain't sayin' who) got right down there and scored three wet rhinokisses. Real kisses, right on the soft muzzle. While other people kept their noses pinched. That person, the one who got the kisses, also did not shower until the next afternoon. Because she actually likes the scent of rhino in her hair. Please note the wet elbow of the parka, courtesy a couple of mouthy Asian one-horned rhinos. 

The January visit is perfectly timed for rhinobabehs. This year, there were THREE. 

A more winsome little animal would be hard to find, with its big swivelly aardvark ears, its gentle eyes and its rubbery padded feet. 

Rhinobabies are quite frisky and easily excited. They bog their heads and suddenly wheel around to run! And then they come back to be loved on again. My babehs were in love
immediately. They leapt at the chance to come back to bird The Wilds and commune with rhinos once again.

We got to see a baby southern white rhino stop running around long enough to nurse.

Let's zoom in on that sweetness. Yes, they're mammals underneath all that armor, with a nice little udder and the sweetest mouths.

The bond between mother an baby is profound. This mama was a little jealous of her baby...she wanted all the attention herself! She kept holding the baby back with her horn, then hurrying up to be petted.
She knew she'd been upstaged. Oh, I know the feeling!

My wonderful partner in Science Club, Mrs. Hendrix. She shows the kids new and wonderful things every Wednesday afternoon. Every bit as big an animal freak as The Science Chimp. We both would like to work full-time in the rhino barn.

This yearling was a little babe last year, and obviously remembered being petted by many birders at once. It wanted more.

More, more, more said the baby.

One of this year's new calves flopped down and presented its belly to Daniel, who was only too happy to give it a rubdown.

Mrs. Hendrix loves rhinos almost best of all. She would like to work here. Instead she is one of Liam's most awesome teachers, something we are very happy about.

Daniel came and got us and Liam and I moved in on his cuddly rhino babeh action.

Really, it was all we could do not to crawl right through the steel bars. Wherever you are, happy Valentine's Day!


Happy Valentines Day to you and your family as well.Thanks for sharing all your loves (birds, flowers, rhinos) with all of us.

What is it about babies of any species (well maybe not insects) that makes us all weak in the knees? So sweet! The local zoo here in NE Florida has a jaguar breeding program and I got to tell you, I'd bring one home in a flash, sharp pointy teeth and claws and all!

Rhinos in Ohio... who'd a-thunk it! I feel I've OD'd on winsomeness for the day.

Oh, wow! I just had a feeling this would be a very special post. How wonderful they all are.

I've had the most amazing opportunity to work with rhinos off and on for about 3 years now at a local zoo here in Texas while I'm going to school and I absolutely LOVE them! They're so very sweet! I definitely enjoyed your post today, thanks so much for sharing!

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