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Mother and child...
Terra Natura is often referred to as a zoo but it is actually a wildlife park. It is based upon 3 continents which replicate the animals and eco-systems of that environment - Europe, Asia and America. Animals and plants typical of that continent can be seen within each region making it not only an enjoyable visit but also an educational learning experience.

The parks philosophy is to preserve species through conservation and instigate a breeding programme for endangered animals - for instance, there are only about 2500 Indian rhinos in the wild.

The park is set in 32 hectares which is the equivalent of 32 football pitches so requires a comfortable pair of shoes. Located in Benidorm, almost next door to the Terra Mitica theme park it also has a water park attached to it - Aqua Natura, which is greatly appreciated after a long days walk around the grounds.

Each month I will be bringing you a report of one of the parks new inhabitants and giving one lucky reader the opportunity of winning a pair of tickets to visit the park.

Terra Natura Wildlife Zoo celebrated the birth its first baby Rhino - making it the first zoo in Spain to successfully breed this species in captivity. The Indian rhino (Rhinoceros Unicornis) named "Shusto" was born on 10th February after a 16hr labour to mum "Shiwa" and elderly father "Niko" who is 26 - which is considered old by rhino standards!  A rhino's pregnancy lasts for 15 months and the mother nurses its calf for between 2-3 years... consider yourselves lucky girls.

The animals went in 2 by 2 .....
Following the long and difficult birth staff were concerned as it took over two hours for the calf to stand up - normally they are on their feet within minutes and then to add more anxiety to the situation the mother had difficulty feeding the baby. It therefore fell upon the dedicated keepers to express milk and bottle feed the baby calf every 2 hours - and considering that the baby weighed 55 kilo's at birth you can just imagine the size of the mother. This lasted for some weeks until the mother was able to continue naturally - much to their relief. A fully grown rhino weighs aprox 2.5 tonnes and can attain a speed of 48 km per hour despite its bulk and contrary to commonly held myth, it is able to make a sharp turn in a remarkably small space.

The staff and vets at the park monitor the baby very closely - it puts on aprox half a kilo per day from its herbivorous diet (they are veggies). However, as there are no other rhino experts in Spain whenever there is a question to ask the keepers have to call upon colleagues in Germany.
The baby has been venturing out into the open but stays in very close proximity to its mother - daddy has been segregated to another area. This is because the male species do not recognize their offspring as their own and there is a danger that he may try and attack it.  Every time mum moves baby follows ... its hypnotic to watch the pair. The water from the pond within the enclosure has been drained as the staff are not sure whether the baby rhino can swim and do not want any harm caused to the infant. Once the weather improves and he has grown stronger they will refill the pond - maybe standing by with floats just in case!
Here is a link to a You Tube video of the calf's first steps into the prairie http://youtu.be/PUnqrCESddQ

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