I had a big advantage that day, because I had gone into work early and, therefore, was able to finish early. As a result, I spent a good chunk of the afternoon at the gorilla exhibit before most other people got home from work or school, saw the news about the baby, and made it out to the Zoo.
When the babes finally did reappear, they must have sensed that the hammer was about to fall, because they did not come completely out of the den a second time, preferring instead to watch the funny-looking creatures staring back at them for as long as they could. And they almost overstayed their welcomes, because…
Dora was an amazing first-time Mom. Six is quite a large litter for an Arctic wolf and there were times when she looked so impossibly thin I didn’t know how she was going to survive until the cubs weaned. But survive she did, and a good portion of that credit goes to her sister, Auntie Vera.
The best guess anyone has is that the cubs were born on May 10, judging from when Dora was last seen (May 6) and when she reappeared for some food (May 11). And while everyone headed for the clearly dug-out den at the northwest corner of the enclosure –a fence was set up to keep giddy visitors a little farther from the “den” – my first glimpse of the new Mama (pictured here at right) came in an entirely different area of the domain.
A quick word about that name, “white rhino.” There are five existing species of rhinoceros: greater one-horned (sometimes called “Indian”), Javan, Sumatran, African white, and African black. The white rhino is, of course, not “white” at all, as can easily be seen in this photo of Tom. The most popular theory of the etymology of this name is that it is derived from the Afrikaans word weit, which means “wide,” referring to this species’ broad muzzle.
If you get a chance to visit the Zoo this winter, try to get up and see this little scamp while she is still so very wee. I mean, she’ll never exactly be huge (they are, after all, “pygmy” hippos), but nevertheless she’s absolutely adorable right now and you should try not to miss her!
When I called Homer and held the photo up for him to see, he was very interested in it, cocking his head back and forth and stretching out his neck to get a better look. I don’t imagine he knew it was a photo of him, but I would think he would recognize his own species when he sees it. That was quite a bit of fun!