Edinburgh Zoo welcomes new Indian rhino after 600-mile trip

The baking temperatures that welcomed Qabid to Edinburgh is more akin to his native India than traditional Scottish climate.

Saturday, 28th July 2018, 6:00 am
A young greater one-horned rhinoceros has arrived at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo after travelling more than 600 miles across Europe. Picture: Contributed

But the young greater one-horned rhinoceros, or Indian rhino, seemed unphased by the heatwave as he explored his new surrounds at Edinburgh Zoo.

A video shows his arrival in the Capital following a 600 mile journey from Planckendael Zoo in Mechelen, Belgium, where he was born.

Qabid and his travelling crate, weighing three tonnes, were gingerly lowered into his new enclosure by a crane before he tool his first tentative steps in the Edinburgh sun.

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Jo Elliot, animal collection manager said: “It was a really special day.

“He’s the fifth greater one-horned rhino we’ve had here so we’re really excited.”

Before making his epic journey across Europe, Qabid was gradually trained to get used to being in a crate.

Every day he would 
practice being inside the box and keepers rewarded him with his favourite treat of apples and pears.

The young rhino is the fifth for Edinburgh Zoo but is currently adjusting to his new surroundings solo.

The zoo hopes another a young rhino will join him soon.

Senior animal keeper Karen Stiven described Qabid’s journey.

She said: “We had to get a crane and lift it over the top of the enclosure before dropping him into a special cradle which fitted the crate, and then the crate was lowered down slowly.

“The slides were then opened and he came out into our hardstand area before being shut into the house.

“It all went very smoothly.”

Qabid has been investigating his new home and has even had a dip in his pool to cool off.

Expert keepers at Edinburgh Zoo play a vital role in the conservation breeding programme for the species, taking care of teenage rhinos when they are ready to leave their mothers but are still too young to be paired with a mate.

Karen said: “We have a long history of rhino conservation at Edinburgh Zoo and an important role to play in the European breeding programme.

“In the wild, young male rhinos leave their mothers at around Qabid’s age and become solitary until they are old enough to breed.

“In the past we have raised two pairs of bachelor rhinos. Baabuu and Fanindra left in 2010 to be paired with females and have both successfully reproduced in the years since.

“We’re anticipating the same success for Samir who left in 2016 and Bertus who left earlier this year.

“We hope Qabid will be joined by another juvenile rhino soon and that they’ll follow in the footsteps of their predecessors when they are fully grown.”