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"Come on, Mbizhi, come on! Mmmmm! Mmmm!"

Taking Mbizhi for a walk in the bush -- September 1997

Up until Mbizhi was nearly two and a half months old, she spent her days in a large enclosed garden, only to go out about twice a day for walks in the bush. (One of the walks would also be combined with a weighing. In this '97 picture, Mbizhi is just over 2 months old; her weight is just over 80 kilograms, or about 176 pounds.)

Daily walks are a very important and essential way to start getting baby rhinos accustomed to the bush. After all, the bush is where they will live - on their own - in a few years. The walks provide a time to explore all the sights, scents, sounds, and tastes of the bush. Any plant in the bush is edible by the rhino, and early encouragement is helpful to teach them this. The walks also provide a time to run and play, or to sleep. Mbizhi was quite an active and playful rhino when she was very young, and I wonder if she knew how cute and funny she sometimes was to watch! Sleeping in the bush is important also, because it is another aspect of adult life to get used to, and it feels different from sleeping in a hut, garden, or boma.

Sometimes Mbizhi would love going on walks, and other times she needed some coaxing. Making rhino sounds helps to maintain the image that the rhino minder is really the rhino mother, and it is (usually) an effective means of coaxing. What do black rhinos sound like, you ask? Something like: "mmmmmm, mmmm, mmmmm." The sounds have varying tones, and both babies and adults make similar sounds.

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