Delight as zoos welcome white rhino and rare vulture chick

Africa Alive! in Kessingland, near Lowestoft, has welcomed a new southern white rhino to the zoo

Africa Alive! in Kessingland, near Lowestoft, has welcomed a new southern white rhino to the zoo - Credit: Africa Alive!

Two of the area's best-known zoos have each welcomed a new arrival, as visitors begin flocking back to the popular attractions. 

Staff at Africa Alive! were delighted in recent weeks to introduce a southern white rhino to the Suffolk park, while Banham Zoo saw the hatching of a Ruppell’s griffon vulture chick.

The white rhino, a female named Belle, arrived in Kessingland in March on the recommendation of the European breeding programme.

Transferring from Cotswold Wildlife Park, where she was born in October 2017, Belle has since been introduced to resident females, Norma and Njiri.

She is currently in the process of getting to know Zimba, Africa Alive!'s male southern white rhino, in the hope they will successfully breed.

Having previously been hunted almost to extinction, the number of southern white rhinos is growing but, with poaching on the rise, they are now classed as near-threatened in the wild. 

Africa Alive! in Kessingland, near Lowestoft, has welcomed a new southern white rhino to the zoo

Africa Alive! in Kessingland, near Lowestoft, has welcomed a new southern white rhino named Belle - Credit: Africa Alive!

Over the years, Africa Alive! has donated more than £33,000 to conservation charity Save the Rhino as part of its commitment to saving the species.

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Terry Hornsey, animal manager at the zoo, said: "Moving a rhino takes planning and expense, and involves organising a crane to unload the large travelling crate so they can be safely let out.

“As a testament to everyone involved, Belle arrived in good health and we are very much looking forward to her first full season with Zimba, Norma and Njiri.”

Meanwhile, at Banham Zoo, the Ruppell's vulture chick hatched as part of the captive breeding programme for the species to mother, Verity, who also hatched at the zoo, and father Foster. 

A Ruppell's griffon vulture chick has hatched at Banham Zoo

A Ruppell's griffon vulture chick has hatched at Banham Zoo - Credit: Banham Zoo

Named after Eduard Ruppell, a 19th century explorer and zoologist, Ruppell’s vultures typically roost on cliffs in large numbers.

They are seriously threatened in the wild, mainly due to habitat loss and poisoning, with numbers believed to have dropped by almost 100pc in 50 years. 

Mike Woolham, head of living collections at Banham, added: "We are very proud to breed these spectacular animals and have done for many years.

“Our flying displays at Banham Zoo aim to empower visitors on the conservation of these birds, and are vital for raising awareness and much-needed funds for Ruppell’s griffon vultures and some Asian species."

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