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When Goliath met Zuri

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White rhino, Goliath, two, and Zuri, eight, met face-to-face at the Pretoria zoo when the gate between their adjoining camps was opened. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Pretoria - It was not exactly love at first sight, but sparks flew at the Pretoria zoo when Goliath and Zuri met on Wednesday.

In time for Valentine’s Day, Zuri (Swahili for “beautiful”) the white rhino came face-to-face with Goliath after they had spent two weeks in separate camps.

When the gate between their camps was opened Goliath wasted no time in moving into Zuri’s camp.

The two sniffed and snorted a bit before Goliath found the camp more interesting than his potential breeding partner. At one point, it seemed the two might storm each other, but the aggression was short-lived.

“Rhino are territorial and it is expected they want to check each other out first,” said Craig Allenby, spokesman for the zoo.

For the past two weeks the two had been able only to see and smell one another. “We are happy with what happened. I think their meeting was a success,” Allenby said.

Goliath, a feisty two-year-old male, has called the zoo home since he was received from the North West Parks Board as a young rhino after being found abandoned by his mother.

Zuri arrived from the zoo’s Lichtenburg Game Breeding Centre about three weeks ago after having been housed at the Wildlife Assignments centre in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, for four months while the zoo prepared her new habitat.

She was born at a Lichtenburg facility and is nearly eight years old.

Allenby said it was hoped the two rhinos would procreate.

“They are not related at all. It is too soon to say if they will breed.”

After the curiosity subsided, Goliath munched on straw and Zuri explored Goliath’s camp.

The zoo now has two male and two female white rhino.

Allenby said the zoo hoped to house more rhino.

“We want to subdivide some of the camps that are too big for the rhino so we can house more,” he said. - Pretoria News

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