Rhino soon to begin journey to Canberra

CAGEY: Kifaru gets used to the cage he will  be heading to Australia in.
CAGEY: Kifaru gets used to the cage he will be heading to Australia in.

The magical powers of lucerne was all it took to convince two male rhino to pack themselves in a box in preparation for moving to a life of luxury across the ditch.

The two 5-year-old males, Kifaru and Ubuntu, will be joined in a couple of weeks by a third male from Christchurch's Orana Park for a flight across the Tasman Sea where a new home awaits.

Two white crates - 12 cubic metres in size - sat in the run between the rhino enclosure and the stables and Hamilton Zoo curator Samantha Kudeweh said a little coaxing and some lucerne - a special treat for the rhino - was all it took to make the rhino comfortable with their travel pods.

"We do a lot of training to get them used to their transport containers," she said.

"We can't force them in there, they have to walk in there and be comfy."

Kifaru and Ubuntu will walk into their steel crates for the last time on April 5 before they are loaded on to a truck bound for Auckland.

They will get on a plane for Christchurch to pick up their new Cantabrian friend and then head to Sydney.

"Hopefully they will be nice to him," she said.

"They are very young animals so that's what we are relying on, that they are young, they are in a new space and they'll want to have a much security around them as possible."

A new enclosure awaits them at the National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra where they will spend a few years thumping around in their man pad.

"They will be a little batchelor trio for a few years - hanging out."

The rhino had to meet stringent biosecurity requirements and the area around their stables was strictly quarantined. The transfer was delayed by more than a year and staff were happy they were soon to be on the move.

Mrs Kudeweh manages the rhino breeding programme in Australasia and said the three rhino would be assessed when they had matured for their breeding potential.

"We know where they are going, we know the people they are going to be with, so it's not like we are losing them really, we are just happy we are contributing to the programme in our region."

Waikato Times