Apollo the orphaned rhino:
Over at our Nairobi Nursery, seven-month-old Raha the rhino is still in the charming baby phase, toddling about with a chorus of high-pitched squeaks. It’s easy to forget that, not so long ago, Apollo was just as small and just as squeaky. But like all youngsters, Apollo is growing up. At four years old, our no-longer-so-little rhino is entering the surly preteen phase.
Apollo keeps us guessing. Some days, he is placid and obedient; other days, nothing and no one can change his mind. One afternoon, he was in one of his special moods. He visited the mud bath, had his milk, then detoured over to a small pond, where he slurped the cool, clear water for an extended period of time. It was a hot day, so the Keepers tried to coax him into the mud bath, but the rhino would not be swayed. Instead, Apollo stood stock still by the pond for a quarter of an hour, before finally ending his protest and wandering off into the bush. He never did have his mud bath!
Apollo has been giving his Keepers the slip recently. But just as we begin to panic, he shows up again — he is a creature of habit, now guided by his daily routine and territory. Thankfully, returning to his stockade remains a routine he is very happy with; if that were not the case, he would certainly be difficult to budge! He spends his evenings in complete relaxation, lying in the soft earth with a pile of range cubes, lucerne cubes, and freshly cut greens on hand. The comforting presence of his on-duty Keeper, who still sleeps in a bunk in the covered building just on the other side of his stockade fence, competes the blissful picture.
The orphaned elephants:
Doldol is embracing her role as ‘big sister’ — we suspect she enjoys the gravitas that comes with being the senior of her little herd. She now shares her stable block with two other orphaned elephants, both of whom will be introduced in due course. While she still follows Keeper Mishak like a shadow, Doldol is very attentive towards both youngsters. Although she remains quite small for her age, she is growing bit by bit. She loves her milk bottles, as her large tummy can attest to! As of late, Doldol has a particular fondness for beach excursions. She seems to enjoy the cool river sand just as much as a mud bath, which was historically her favourite activity.
Over at the larger orphan compound, Mwinzi continues to enchant everyone in his orbit. He is a larger than life little elephant but never causes any issues within the Kaluku herd. Mwinzi’s favourite moments are spent in the mud bath, thrashing around in the red mud. It is often quite a mission to convince him that it is time to exit, but the lure of a dust bath usually does the trick.
Given their similarly in their big personalities, it is little surprise that Mwinzi gravitates towards Vaarti. The older bull is unfalteringly cheerful and mild-mannered. These days, Vaarti is the first to arrive for the 11 o’clock milk feed and mud bath session. Sometimes, he even gives himself a big head start and arrives long before the rest of the herd! Upon finishing his milk, he heads straight over to the freshwater hose pipe. He walks around, drinking from the hose until he’s had enough. Only then are the others allowed to have a drink.
Vaarti and Mayan remain nighttime neighbours and the best of friends. Mayan, Kaluku’s resident homebody, is usually the first out of his bedroom in the morning and the first to return in the evening. As soon as the stockade gates open, he makes a beeline to the milk mixing area to say hello to the Keepers, who are having their morning tea. Although he is a very gentle young bull, Mayan can cause quite a commotion due to his inquisitive nature.
Rokka has always been a little fish. For a spell, she was distracted by Mwinzi and her newfound mini matriarch duties, but now she has rediscovered her first love: water. She loves the mud bath and cannot seem to fit enough wallowing into a day. The Keepers have to pull out all the stops to convince her that it is time to leave the water. Rokka is a very curious elephant, which is why she often comes across as pushy and naughty. However, we are happy to report that she has better behaved recently.
Manda’s new best friend seems to be Rokka. They’re about the same age and share similar dispositions, as well as being nighttime neighbours, so the friendship makes sense. They always gravitate towards each other while out browsing and at the cooling mud bath sessions, having a spirited competition to see who can out-splash whom. Manda is very vigilant and seems to be the first to spot a new visitor in their midst. He then immediately walks over to investigate and say hello. Although he used to be quite mischievous, he has also become better behaved of late.
Twiggy the orphaned giraffe:
With the dry season setting in, Twiggy gets right down to business in the morning. She innately knows that she must spend as much time as possible browsing, as fresh greenery will be in increasingly short supply. (Of course, we will always make sure Twiggy has enough to eat, but these instincts will serve her well in her wild life.) As is typical of giraffes, she has a ‘sweet tooth’ when it comes to acacia and always seeks out their leafy branches.
Twiggy is an interesting combination of shy and social. While she is very quiet and rarely gets involved in games or mischief, she loves the company of the other orphans. The lanky giraffe is often seen in the company of little Nini, an orphaned Thomson's Gazelle. She is also incredibly friendly with our resident orphaned duikers, a particularly diminutive species of antelope — which makes this relationship all the more unusual. Although she does not partake in the daily mud bath fun, Twiggy still attends the occasion without fail, wandering from tree to tree while the elephants wallow. This routine is very much a part of her rounds. Given that she is completely free to wander wherever she pleases, it makes her habit all the more intriguing. It seems she just likes to clock in and say hello to the motley gang, enjoying them all from a safe distance but not wanting to get showered in mud herself. Afterwards, Twiggy returns to the stockade area with Keepers Peter and Fred, where she resumes her browsing session.