This post written by Ashley Roth
The three white rhinos housed at the Houston Zoo are not alone in their exhibit. They share their home with antelope called Greater Kudu. It takes the keepers on average one hour to clean the exhibit. The kudu defecate wherever they please while the rhinos like to defecate in the same spot, making it slightly easier to clean. However, it still takes 4-6 wheelbarrow loads with each one weighing over 200 lbs. to clean the entire exhibit. New hay is then placed on exhibit. The three rhinos will eat a combined 2-3 bales of hay everyday with each bale weighing 65-70 pounds.
Bath time for our rhinos comes several times a week. To get the rhinos clean, they are hosed down. Annie Kamariah, our 6 year old female rhino loves her bath more than the other two. When she is on exhibit or in the holding yard, she will run through the stream of water then roll around in the puddle that forms underneath her. She also positions herself in front of the hose for whatever part of her body she wants to have cleaned. Our rhinos love to roll around in their mud wallow to cool down and protect their skin from getting sunburned.
Once the barns are clean the Kudu’s dinner is placed in their overnight holding. They receive herbivore pellets, alfalfa, and produce. Several days a week they receive freshly cut vegetation provided by the Houston Zoo’s horticulture staff. If there is extra time, keepers work on projects which includes anything from exhibit maintenance, providing enrichment, keeper chats, and/or animal training.
The rhino and kudu here at the Houston Zoo require many hours of care to meet their basic needs. The keepers are passionate about providing the best possible animal husbandry for their animals. To find out what it takes to be a rhino keeper, head out to the Houston Zoo on September 22 & 23. We are celebrating World Rhino Day with a Rhino Spotlight on Species event. Meet some of the keepers to learn why rhinos are so important to their ecosystems as well as to the keepers and zoo guests here in Houston.