Romancing rhinos given a helping hand..!
If you've visited us before or seen any Noah's Ark marketing you'll struggle to have missed our two imposing white rhino Rumbull and Rumba - the first 'big zoo' species to join our zoo, and an iconic symbol for our 100 acre park.
Well, we're hoping two may finally become three.. Our loved-up rhinos in Bristol might just produce the patter of not-so-tiny feet, helped by cutting-edge reproductive science! The popular couple joined the park back in 2005 and although close companions and now 14 years old, have proved natural rhino mating is a hit-and-miss-affair - with signs of mating behaviour but no successful pregnancy.
So, after some research, we called on the expertise of two German rhino fertility specialists from Berlin’s Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research - known for helping zoos out when important species like rhino struggle to breed by themselves. Rumbull and Rumba now have a better chance of conceiving after struggling to produce a calf naturally – thanks to dietary supplements recommended by our German colleagues which have helped significantly improve male Rumbull’s sperm count. Experts Dr. Robert Hermes and Dr. Frank Göritz travelled to Bristol to work with keepers at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm to re-assess the South African rhinos and carry out A.I. (artificial insemination) last week.
Having visited last year and recommended a beta-carotene food powder to help improve Rumbull’s semen, examination of a fresh sample shows a marked improvement. Rumbull’s sperm count and motility is much better (he's got good swimmers..!), a great sign which will boost the chances of a successful pregnancy. Keepers at the zoo took part in the procedure and filmed a rare clip of the improved rhino semen sample being analysed under microscope... check out the fascinating footage from our Rhino AI video on Vimeo. The story made national news this week, keep your eyes out for more and for updates from Noah's Ark on the chance of rhino breeding on our official Facebook page.