Apollo’s June Update

Jun 20, 2020

The El Paso Rhinos adopted Apollo, an orphaned Rhino, being cared for by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya. Here’s his monthly update. You can read more about Apollo’s adoption here. 

June Update

Apollo continues to run the show at our Kaluku Field HQ. While the vegetation is still thick and green, the rains have abated and hot days are beginning to dry the landscape. Now that the Athi River has calmed down, he is once again cruising to his usual beat. After sprinting, strolling, and rolling his way along the washed white beaches, he continues his explorations through the thick bush and down sandy luggas shaded by acacia and tamarind trees. While he is very much still milk-dependent, Apollo has a hearty appetite for greens, and has perfected the art of walking and browsing.

It’s always incredible how effectively tiny, biting insects can hassle an animal as big as a rhino. Tsetse flies were particularly persistent in their assaults, and their sharp proboscis were able to penetrate Apollo’s thick skin and caused him a lot of grief. His Keepers developed an ingenious makeshift fly swat, made from wild sage branches, which banished any pests that buzzed in his direction. Each swat filled the air with the intoxicating scent of the wild sage, which seemed helpful as well! On top of that, Apollo enjoyed extra lavish mud baths, protecting his skin with a thick layer of dried mud to ward off his tiny aggressors.

Lots of wild elephants passed through the area this month, which complicated Apollo’s jaunts into the bush. Thankfully, our little rhino is extremely alert, so he would realise their presence and give the Keepers plenty of time to change course. These elephants have lots of babies in tow, and share many of Apollo’s favourite haunts, notably the mud bath. Because they largely wallow under the cover of darkness, he can still monopolise it during the day. Apollo doesn’t seem to mind sharing it; in fact, the elephants have made the mud bath far more substantial in size and depth, which seems to be to his liking!

Rhinos are full of little idiosyncrasies, and we have noticed that Apollo is very particular about his Keepers. While a group of men have been caring for him from the very beginning, there are only a select few whom Apollo is prepared to listen to. He is very dismissive towards those who aren’t among his chosen few, and often ignores their instructions entirely. This is certainly a trait among black rhinos; time and again, we’ve seen orphans in our care pick their favourites.

He may be growing up fast, but Apollo remains a very playful baby. In fact, our Keepers have quite an intense workout regimen just by running after him! The expansive Kaluku airstrip is an ideal place for him to burn off some energy, and with Apollo hot on your heels, he can definitely encourage a blistering pace. He has his quiet moments too, and a quick way to Apollo’s heart is to be proactive during mud bath sessions. He loves to be plied with mud and cool water, and lays there in a trance as the Keepers’ rub his back and tummy. This is, however, the calm before the storm, and as soon as these sessions in the mud bath are over, he is positively exploding with energy. For a good twenty minutes he charges around, huffing and puffing, and spinning and galloping through bushes. These little bursts of activity are over as quickly as they began, and it’s never long before he flops to the ground to sleep. His midday naps often take place under Apollo’s favourite baobab tree. We have built a seat for the Keepers to rest in the shade as well — and these moments of relaxation are well-deserved, after keeping pace with Apollo all day! After a few rubs to the tummy, the little rhino slips into a blissful stupor and the Keepers can enjoy a quiet lunch, which is brought out to them. They have a radio on-hand at all times, so food and milk finds them wherever they need it.

At the end of the day, Apollo and his team amble home. He knows exactly which stable is his and is always eager to settle down for the night. He still hoists his mattress over his back, like a little tent, before going to sleep. Given his growing size, he’s quickly outgrowing this little habit and it now perches rather precariously over his generous girth, but that doesn’t seem to bother him!

Thank you so much for your continued support of Apollo and the orphans, which enables us to provide for all their wants and needs. Do look out for our full monthly update on the Orphans’ Project, which I will be sending later today.