Our baby rhino, "Shida", who came into the Nairobi Nursery on 30th August 2003, is now 7 months old, and the epitome of robust health. His claim to fame is that he has been the easiest and most un-problematical rhino orphan that the Trust has ever hand-reared, but this is probably simply that having hand-reared 14 Black Rhino over the years, we have managed to get everything just right! Shida is a very contented and happy little rhino, exceedingly playful, who has never suffered any ill-health, but who has thrived from day one. Unlike his predecessors, he is happy to follow any Keeper and at night, sleep beside any coat that carries the scent of any Keeper, since he now looks upon any one of them as "mother". To begin with the key to getting him used to all the Keepers, rather than just one or two, was a specific coat and a specific scent that identified the wearer as "mother", but with the passing of time, Shida knows all the elephant Keepers, who take turns to accompany him, so he is not nearly so choosey about the scent of the coat. However, the special coat still has to be in situ during the night, when he settles down happily in his comfortable stable, with the coat hanging within reach.
In fact, Shida is more fortunate than his predecessors, since with 9 little elephants that have to be fed at regular intervals throughout the night, with a full-time Milk "Mixer" on duty each night, he gets his rations during the night as well as by day. At 7 months old, he is a perfect miniature of his awesome kind - sturdy, plump, robust, playful and strong and with a nose now adorned with a miniature horn, he is very good looking! His day begins at 6 a.m. with a milk feed, followed by a stroll round all the dungpiles and urinals to which our two other grown rhinos, Magnum and Makosa as well as the wild rhino residents of the Park, contribute. He enjoys a race in the mornings, galloping along a specific "beat"that is memorized indelibly, ending with a series of "pig jumps" in the air, and then a fast gallop back again to his Keeper, following the exact same path by memory and scent. At 11 a.m. sharp, when members of the public gather to watch the daily mudbath, Shida arrives ahead of the elephants to be "anointed" with mud, savouring the rubbing that accompanies this ritual, which invariably collapses him, charming all the spectators. When the time comes for the elephant orphans to arrive, he retires to the salt lick on the rocks bordering the forest, where he investigates with great interest the scent and chemistry of wild nocturnal visitors, rhinos included. Then when mudbath ends at noon, it is back in the forest and further "midden" excursions, in between sampling the new lush browse brought on by recent heavy rains. Occasionally, he and his Keeper may take a nap in the shade in the heat of the afternoon after a lunchtime meal, before more fun and racing games in the cool of the evening, before returning to his Night Stable and the hanging coat. At this time his foster-parents may visit him, and spoil him with a tummy rub, which all rhinos simply cannot resist. And so, little "Shida", whose name means "Problem" in Kiswahili should perhaps have the prefix "Hakuna" because the interpretation of "Hakuna Shida" would be more appropriate meaning "no problem!"