Rhino House

At Blair Drummond Safari Park we have been part of the European Endangered Species Programme – EEP – since the early 2000s.  

 Rhinos arrive at Blair Drummond Safari Park

It began with the arrival of three young southern white rhinos who came to us from Kruger National Park in South Africa.  Two of these rhinos - Graham and Dot - went on to breed successfully at the park, whereas the third, Jane, moved on to a new collection in Germany.  Due to rapid declines of white rhino populations in the past – numbers were estimated to be below 100 in the early 1900s – translocation of rhinos from South Africa to other countries has taken place to ensure their survival.  

Southern white rhino endangered species breeding programme distribution

These conservation efforts have been very successful, with southern white rhino numbers estimated to be anywhere between 16,000 to 20,000 in the wild.  However, while this progress is encouraging, this is still a comparatively small number for a wild animal population, and the threat of poaching is a very real danger to us losing rhinos from the wild completely.  Their horn is prized for its use both for ornaments and jewellery as well as in traditional medicines (though it is made of keratin - a protein that cannot be digested by the human body!).

Lars Versteege, curator of Beekse Bergen Safari Park in the Netherlands and coordinator of the EEP for white rhinos, made the discovery that female rhinos’ fertility can be suppressed if the calves stay with their mothers.  This may account for the lack of success in generations of rhinos breeding in captivity in the past.  Because of this, and male rhinos’ tendency to leave the herd after a few years, the programme transports rhinos all over Europe to ensure young rhinos can breed successfully and we can maintain a high level of genetic diversity.  This page details the rhinos that have come into the world due to the success of our two oldest rhinos, Dot and Graham, but is just a fraction of the successful work that the white rhino EEP has had! 

Blair Drummond rhino breeding programme family tree

Graham the white rhino

Graham

Birthplace: Kruger National Park

DOB: 2000

Current location: Blair Drummond Safari Park

Graham was born in South Africa’s Kruger National Park in 2000, though we don’t know his exact date of birth!  He moved to Blair Drummond in 2003 along with two young females, Dot and Jane, due to an initiative to start a southern white rhino breeding programme in Europe.  Jane has since moved over to Allwetterzoo in Munster, Germany, but Dot remains with us.  They have had five calves so far!

Adult male rhinos tend to live a solitary life, and so Graham has his own enclosure on the opposite side of our reserves from the others.  They are, of course, mixed occasionally – we wouldn’t have had much luck with breeding if they weren’t!

 Dot the white rhino

Dorothy (Dot)

Birthplace: Kruger National Park

DOB: 2000

Current location: Blair Drummond Safari Park

Dot, like Graham, was born in Kruger National Park in South Africa in 2000, although we don’t know her exact date of birth.  At the age of 3 she moved over to Blair Drummond Safari Park and by the age of 7, she had her first calf – Mazumba! She has since had four more – Ailsa, Angus, Bruce, and Bonnie.

Dot currently shares her enclosure with youngest calf, Bruce, and another adult female, Tswane, who came to our shores from France’s Zoo d’Amneville.  She can be identified by way of her unusual horn, which points downwards.  Rhino horn is made of keratin, the same protein that makes up our hair and nails, and as such it grows continuously through their lifetime.  That means rhinos can file their horn down on different surfaces in whatever way they like, and while Dot used to have a classic upward-pointing horn, she decided in more recent years to break the mould and change her style!

Tswane the white rhino

Tswane

Birthplace: Kruger National Park

DOB: 2000

Current location: Blair Drummond Safari Park

Tswane arrived at Blair Drummond in October 2015 as it is hoped she will successfully reproduce with Graham.  At the time of writing she has mated with him, but it is unconfirmed if she’s fallen pregnant or not!

The name “Tswane” is from the name “Tshwane” which is an area in South Africa, and was also the original name of the Apies River.  Tshwane is thought to come from the Setswana word “tshwana” which means “black cow”.   In the language Tshivenda, spoken in South Africa, Tshwane is spelt without the H – and so we’ve ended up with Tswane!

Tswane is very sweet natured and somewhat easily spooked compared to the other rhinos.  For a while she wasn’t too confident going out into the drive-through reserves, but has since relaxed a bit more, and acts as an aunt or surrogate mother to Bruce despite not being a blood relative.  This does mean, though, that she often has to put up with him misbehaving!

 

Mazumba in Beekse Bergen Safari Park with calf Sofie

Mazumba (Maz)

Birthplace: Blair Drummond Safari Park

DOB: 24/08/07

Current location: Beekse Bergen Safari Park

Mazumba is Dot and Graham’s eldest calf and turned 9 in August 2016.  She was the first to move to a new facility as part of the breeding programme, and has had great success!  She has had two calves with an adult male named Miguelin, a rhino originally from Carbarceno Natural Park in Spain. Their first calf, Bruno, was born in 2012, with Sofie (seen above - photo credit to BBSF) following in on the 1st of March 2015.

Bruno at Thoiry

Bruno

Birthplace: Safaripark Beekse Bergen

DOB: 06/12/12

Current location: Parc Zoologique et Chateau de Thoiry

Bruno was born in Beekse Bergen Safari Park in the Netherlands in December 2012, and moved to Parc de Thoiry – just west of Paris – in March 2015.  He arrived alongside Vince, another young male who came from Royal Burgers’ Zoo, also in the Netherlands. (Picture above provided by Lars Versteege, BBSF.)

The two young male rhinos were introduced to one another the day after their arrival with great success – they took to each other very quickly! They also met a female rhino, Gracie, who at the ripe old age of 36 moved over from Africa Alive in southeast England.

Christophe Grossiord, curator of ungulates (hooved animals) at Parc de Thoiry, said that the three rhinos spend a lot of time together and work nicely as a group.  As is to be expected of young male rhinos, Bruno and Vince spend a lot of time scrapping and playing with each other!

Ailsa and Ekozu at West Midland Safari Park

Ailsa

Birthplace: Blair Drummond Safari Park

DOB: 21/12/09

Current location: West Midland Safari Park

Ailsa was the second calf born to Dot and Graham, as well as their second daughter.  Named after the now head of Large Mammals at the park, Ailsa McCormick, she was a little calmer and less cheeky than her older sister!

Ailsa can now be seen in West Midland Safari Park, and in March 2016 had a son of her own, Ekozu (pictured above - photo credit to WMSP).  Keepers at WMSP have said that Ailsa is an exemplary mum who does everything that a mum should.  She is generally very laid back in nature, but when Ekozu went into the reserves and met the park buffalo for the first time, she got a little bit wary and grunted at them to make sure they didn’t get too close! Ailsa is much missed by staff here and adored by staff at WMSP.

Ekozu at West Midland Safari Park

Ekozu

Birthplace: West Midland Safari Park

DOB: 25/03/16

Current location: West Midland Safari Park

The name “Ekozu” means “white rhino” in Herero, a language spoken in Namibia.  Ekozu was born on Good Friday and is the first rhino to have been born in West Midland Safari Park since his father, Barney, who was born in 2006 – another great step forward for the EEP breeding programme!

Ekozu is full of beans (as you can see from the above photo! - credit to WMSP) and is not nearly as laid back as mum Ailsa.  During his first adventures out into the park’s reserves, he came face-to-face with curious giraffes and Congo buffalo, and charged right at unsuspecting groups of ducks who probably didn’t realise he meant no harm! He’s integrated well into the group which includes three females as well as his mum, and is adored by keepers and public alike.

 Angus the white rhino

Angus

Birthplace: Blair Drummond Safari Park

DOB: 24/11/11

Current location: Paris Zoological Park

Dot and Graham’s first son, Angus was moved to Paris Zoological Park in the hope that he will become a parent in future, following in the footsteps of his sisters.  He is currently housed with another young male named Wami. He is pictured above not long after his birth in late 2011.

Bruce the white rhino being weighed

Bruce

Birthplace: Blair Drummond Safari Park

DOB: 12/10/14

Current location: Blair Drummond Safari Park

Bruce was born in 2014, the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, which occurred on a few miles from the park’s location today. That’s why he’s named after the man who led the troops to victory: Robert the Bruce.  Admittedly, however, Bruce is not quite the brave leader that his namesake was – he tries to spend a lot of time following mum Dot around like a shadow, and whines when he doesn’t get his way!

In the summer of 2016 Bruce weighed in at over a tonne – pretty heavy for a two year old!  He’s a sweetheart, but Dot is encouraging him to be a little more independent - especially now that a little sister has come along.  Pictured above is Bruce when he was only a number of weeks old, with keeper Graeme having been tasked with weighing him!

Bonnie the white rhino

Bonnie

Birthplace: Blair Drummond Safari Park

DOB: 27/09/16

Current location: Blair Drummond Safari Park

Last but not least, we have our most recent arrival - Bonnie! Dot and Graham's fifth calf, she came along at about 4.30pm on a quiet Tuesday afternoon.  Dot had been getting steadily more restless throughout the day, giving birth to Bonnie less than an hour before we closed our doors.  First impressions show us that Bonnie is very bouncy, and is in excellent health.  She came out weighing a hefty 60 kilograms!