Apollo’s April 2021 Update
Apollo celebrated his second birthday last month, and while he is still very much a baby, he looks anything but: His features have become distinctly more rhino-like, giving him a rather formidable appearance, and he now dwarfs all the other residents at our Kaluku Field HQ.
While Apollo is filling out, he is also maturing emotionally. Small signs indicate this every day, things only his Keepers would notice. Other signs make a more obvious statement. For instance, Apollo suddenly decided that he was ready for a different nighttime setup. He began to treat his cozy stable — which he had always loved so much — with great contempt, banging loudly on the door at night.
It was clear that he was ready for an upgrade — and it was equally clear that no one else would get a wink of sleep until we fulfilled his wishes! We quickly moved him into an open stockade that sits within the protected compound. Apollo spent much of the month settling into his new “big boy bedroom.” He is giddy about his new accommodation. The Keepers have gone above and beyond to make it a special space for him, ensuring it has everything the little rhino needs to feel safe and secure. Before he settles down for the night, Apollo often circles from corner to corner, happily shuffling piles of hay with his stubby horn, and inspecting his middens.
Watch: Apollo’s mud bath ritual and baobab explorations
Out and about in Kaluku, there are always plenty of adventures to be had — even if the hot weather left everyone feeling quite lethargic in April! Apollo is quite happy to structure his daily explorations in pursuit of refreshment, seeking out water holes and sandy luggas. Of course, he always spends time at the mud bath, enjoying a leisurely wallow in the afternoon heat. He may be growing up, but Apollo is still very happy to let his Keepers lend a helping hand during mud bath time. He flops down in the wet earth, wiggling gleefully as the Keepers coat him in mud from head to toe.
Apollo embarked on two solo excursions this month, giving his Keepers the slip, which can easily happen with the dense vegetation around Kaluku thanks to the abundant rain. Search parties were hastily arranged, but we needn’t have worried: Each time, the wayward rhino sauntered back a short while later, completely oblivious to the drama he had caused. These incidents remind us Apollo is becoming increasingly independent and are also a testament to his knowledge of the area; he always knows how to get home, familiar with his territory. This will become increasingly important as he advances in his reintegration journey.
Of course, Apollo’s reintegration journey will continue to unfold over the coming months and years. For now, our little boy remains entirely reliant on our care. He still squeaks with delight when he hears his milk bottle being prepared, or affectionately slings his enormous head over his Keepers’ shoulders in a rhino version of a hug.