Maxwell plays Houdini

Maxwell quite by mistake ended up having a great adventure in the early hours of Tuesday 16th April

Maxwell quite by mistake ended up having a great adventure in the early hours of Tuesday 16th April. It is a mystery how the bolt on his stockade chain came loose to the extent of falling away completely causing his stockade side door to open presumably as he leaned on it. Solio, the female rhino orphan who is now free to come and go as she pleases, had been back to the stockades between 6pm and 9pm the previous evening and perhaps Maxwell while having contact with her had pressed again and again against the door causing it to slowly come loose. Luckily she was long gone by the time Maxwell made his escape or he could have followed her far out into the Nairobi National Park. There he would have been at the mercy of other aggressive male rhinos, who would have perceived him as a threat, being unfamiliar to them, or at risk from Nairobi Park predators or dangerous unknown terrain. The torrential rain had also resulted in some fast flowing streams which, from his tracks, it appears Maxwell was reluctant to cross. Instead he made his way back towards the familiar smell of his midden, where the keepers deposit his dung from the stockade, and towards the various delights of Daphne Sheldrick's garden.

The first that was known of Maxwells shenanigans was when Taru, Angela Sheldrick's son, was rudely awakened at about 4am by some crashing about outside his bedroom window. In the pitch dark he mistakenly thought it must be Solio, who often chooses to spend nights out of the confines of her stockade. Taru told her to go away and thought little more of it until he was awakened again at 5am. This time he thought he had better get up and take a closer look. Maxwell had obviously been bumbling around for quite a while, rooting up paving slabs and upturning the garden chairs. Being blind he would not have been able to see what he was doing but with his excellent sense of smell he could have been searching out the familiar scents of Solio and the Sheldrick family. Taru, realising it was not in fact Solio but Maxwell, quickly alerted the rest of the family. At this stage, on rising to let the elephant orphans out, the keepers had also become aware that Maxwell was not in his stockade. They followed his tracks which finally led them to the front of Angela's house. There they faced a very serious dilemma. Angela was very concerned as, if it proved impossible to get Maxwell to return of his own accord, the vets would have to be called in, Maxwell darted and then who knows what measures taken to try and lift the nearly fully grown 7 year old rhino back to his stockade.

Happily Angela's concerns were unfounded. Maxwell seemed to be quite happy and relieved to hear familiar voices in what must have been, for him, an extremely confusing situation. Instead of reacting with fear and aggression, the common way for a rhino to react when alarmed, he allowed himself to be coerced back to his stockade with a bottle of milk, some bananas and the familiar smells of the dung from his midden. The only slight hitch came when the keepers had to persuade him to cross the small stream near the elephants mud bath, something he had managed to avoid previously by traipsing through Daphne's garden. Overcoming Maxwells fears with much encouragement he was soon back in his stockade looking, as much as a rhino can do, mightily relieved, as were the keepers and the rest of the Sheldrick family.