It is important that young calves, dependent on their mothers’ milk, drink as quickly as possible, but every single patient takes the bottle differently. Dependent on milk means that the calf only has his mother’s milk as food and doesn’t eat anything else, just like a human baby. Rehab staff will try as soon as they can to get them drinking, and make a mixture of cow’s milk powder, glucose (which is a kind of sugar) and something called protexin, which helps to stop the calves getting an upset tummy. Depending on their age, these calves will be given warm milk feeds every few hours throughout the day and night.
It is also very important to monitor the calves’ weight, and adjust their nutrition levels (how much we feed them) depending on whether they are putting on or losing weight. Scared baby rhinos can often get Colic (which is like a tummy ache),but we can usually quickly recognise the signs.
We also check their dung and urine, (that’s the proper names for their poo and wee) and provide mud wallows to help keep parasites off their skin, and wallowing keeps them happy, as it is something fun for them to do. Once they are old enough, they can start to eat grass and pellet feeds. Pellet feed looks a bit like dry pet food. The calf will then also meet other calves, so it get used to spending time with animals, which stops them needing humans so much. This is what we want, to get them ready to go back to the wild.