A preliminary evaluation of a hand-rearing formula for southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) calves


Mertes K, Schlegel ML, Renjifo A, Valdes EV. 2005. A preliminary evaluation of a hand-rearing formula for southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) calves. In Graffam W, Hellinga D, Maslanka M, Ward A, Eds. Proceedings of the Sixth Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, Omaha, NE.


Exotic neonates may be hand-raised in captivity for various reasons. Records and evaluations of these hand-rearing efforts, the protocols used to achieve typical species growth and behavior, and data on the composition of mother’s milk, are needed to increase the success of hand-rearing a number of exotic species, including the southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum). Disney’s Animal Kingdom (DAK) has successfully parent-reared four C. s. simum calves. The acquisition of a female C. s. simum calf (HR) for hand-rearing in early January 2005 offered an opportunity to evaluate the institution’s hand-rearing protocol, adapted from the literature and previous experiences with rhinoceros calves in the DAK collection. The birth of a second generation dam-reared C. s. simum calf (DR) on March 2, 2005, enabled detailed comparisons between two similarly-aged calves concurrently housed and cared for, and the collection of contemporary samples of C. s. simum milk for nutritional analysis. Animal keepers recorded body weight, formula consumption, feeding response, urine and fecal production, stool consistency and general behaviors of calf HR and body weights and general behavior of calf DR. Calf HR exhibited greater body weight and daily gains to those of DAK dam-reared C. s. simum calves and calf DR, and far greater than those of hand-reared C. s. simum calves in the literature. Although total solids, fat, and protein of milk from the dam of calf DR (Total solids, 9.23%; fat, 7.3% of DM; protein 16.1% of DM; and sugar, 42.3% of DM) were similar to previous reports, sugar was lower. The hand-rearing protocol used resulted in a healthy calf; however, increased daily weight gains suggest that a more dilute formula may be a necessary modification to the protocol.

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