An endangered baby black rhino has had an extraordinary routine since coming into the care of a wildlife trust in Africa.
Known as Apollo, the miniature mammal was found after rangers in the Tsavo West National Park in Kenya discovered his mother, Amoy, died in September 2019, British news agency SWNS reports.
Apollo now resides at Kenya's Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's Kaluku Field HQ, which has raised 17 orphaned rhinos so far. He spends his day taking mud baths, getting rubbed on his horn and is the object of affection of his caretakers.
“Typical of black rhinos, Apollo enjoys routine, familiar faces and known surroundings," Rob Brandford, executive director of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, said in a statement on the trust's website. "Most mornings, he begins his days early, emerging from his custom-built stable (which keeps him warm, cozy and secure from predators during the night) at six in the morning to mill around close to home after enjoying his morning milk feed."
Brandford, who noted that Apollo was an orphan at six months, added that the keepers are playing the role of Apollo's parents, with him every minute of the day.
“Apollo is cared for a by a team of experienced rhino Keepers, who work in rotation to ensure Apollo doesn’t get used to any one carer should they go on annual leave," Brandford explained. "During his daily excursions, there are always two keepers with him and most days they encounter a number of wild animals along the way, varying from elephants, to the tiny dik-dik."
Once Apollo is old enough, he will be returned to the wild in a protected area, SWNS added.
Black rhinos are considered "critically endangered" by the World Wildlife Fund. The organization noted that between 1960 and 1995, the population of black rhinos dropped 98 percent to less than 2,500.
"Since then, the species has made a tremendous comeback from the brink of extinction," the WWF wrote, adding that the population now ranges between 5,042 and 5,455 today.
In December 2019, a black rhino calf was born on Christmas Eve in Michigan's Potter Park Zoo, the first time in the zoo's 100-year history.