Around 6 a.m this morning I opened my eyes, saw sun rays penetrated my room through a safari patterned curtain covering my windows, heard the trickling sound of gentle rain, checked my watch, then grabbed my blanket and went back to sleep. I’m not a morning person (unless if morning person means they sleep in the morning, ha!) so waking up before 8 a.m is not easy for me, and the rain did not make it any easier. Half an hour later my alarm rang, so I forced myself to wake up after pressing the snooze button a couple of times.
I took a deep breath, took a large amount of fresh air with the smell of the jungle to fill my lungs. Birds had started chirping since sunrise, with cicadas joining their jungle orchestra them as well. Every now and then I heard rustling leaves as the long tailed and pig tailed macaques jumped from branch to branch, ready to start their day. And what were those animals calling each other so loudly? They were really loud, with both ululating and bitonal screams. Oh, right, of course the siamang! I almost forgot that I’m back in the Sumatran wilderness. How I missed the jungle! But my day is not complete yet without seeing my hairy kids.
I went to see the hairy rhinos accompanied by SRS’ current veterinarian, Dr. Made Fera. We started with Harapan, the newest resident at Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary who was born in Cincinnati Zoo in April 2007 and brought back to Indonesia in November 2015. I almost fell in love instantly with him! Weighed about 780 kg (1,720 pounds), Harapan showed gentle gestures toward his keepers though sometimes he tried to chase them too. For a wildlife that was born and raised in captivity, he was doing quite well in his new home. It was Harapan’s birthday too so we helped him celebrate by making a simple ‘cake’ made of his favorite fruits and vegetables.
Next, we met Andatu in his stall. Andatu, my first ‘grandson’ from his mother Ratu and his father Andalas, was born in June 2012 when I was still working at SRS as a full time vet. He weighed only 25 kg (55 pounds) when he was born, but look at him now! I barely recognized him, especially now that he has two rhino horns instead of a flat nose that he had when he came into this world. More update about Andatu is coming soon.
After Andatu, we went to greet Andalas. Andalas is Andatu’s father who was born in Cincinnati Zoo in September 2001 and brought back to Indonesia in 2007. He was the first Sumatran rhino born in captivity. His birth sparked a big hope to breed the critically endangered species in captivity to eventually prevent them from extinction. Nothing has changed much since I saw him last. He’s still a big boy who enjoys his time in the stall, spending as much time with his keeper as possible. Such a cute boy, but hey, he’ll be a father of two real soon!
Inside Andalas’ paddock, believe or not, out of millions of trees in Way Kambas National Park, I have a favorite tree. There’s this one particular tree that strongly caught my attention. I sometimes do grounding under this tree, but recently there has been an insect nest growing at the nest so I did not dare to go closer this time.
Then, we moved to see Rosa, the most beautiful Sumatran rhino I’ve ever seen and everyone agrees. If you try to find wild Sumatran rhino pictures online, most likely you’ll end up with Rosa’s pictures (in addition to Ratu’s and Andatu’s). She’s like the supermodel in Sumatran rhino world, but a few years ago her beauty was quickly defeated by the cuteness of a newborn star – Andatu.
Then we visited Bina in her stall. I’m not going to lie, she’s my favorite rhino so far. She has a reputation of being shy and unpredictable but she captured my heart with her captivating eyes nevertheless. She was one of the first rhinos that were captured in the late 1980s to early 1990s and she’s the only survivor till today. That makes her the oldest Sumatran rhino in captivity, aged about 29-30 years old. I don’t know why, but I feel very connected to her. I feel she always has a kind of ancient wisdom to share with us humans.
We were hoping to see Ratu the pregnant mother, but that morning she decided not to say hi to me in the stall. Maybe we’ll meet tomorrow to check her and her baby conditions. If you’d like to see how she’s doing so far you can read this post here and follow IRF’s blog for future updates.
Which rhino would you like to meet most? Did you know you also can adopt them as your hairy kids? Check their pictures and individual profiles here.