As we shared last month, rhinos are creatures of habit. Apollo loves his rituals. His days begin early, just as the sun rises in the sky. After slurping down his breakfast milk bottle, the young rhino takes a lap or two around his stockade. While the elephant orphans tend to dash from activity to activity, Apollo prefers to do things at a meandering pace. For this reason, the Keepers always let him out of his bedroom last, so he can take a leisurely stroll around the compound before heading out into the bush with his Keepers.
Apollo spends the morning browsing, up until his 11am mud bath and milk feed. He has an extremely accurate internal clock: Ten minutes before the hour, he makes his way over to the mud bath area, where he patiently waits for his bottles to arrive. After filling his belly with milk, he has a long drink of cold water. He likes when the Keepers turn the hose into a water fountain, so he can drink directly from the spout.
Watch: Mornings with Apollo
From there, Apollo happily flops down on the red earth. Using the hose, the Keepers create lots of fresh, cool mud, which they slather over every inch of the rhino’s leathery skin. Sometimes, Apollo has to be coaxed to relax. There are always lots of interesting sights, sounds, and smells to digest, which distract Apollo to no end. The scent of a passing elephant herd or the chatter of baboons will cause him to leap to his feet, ears pricked and muscles tense. One creature who causes him no concern is Bristle, the orphaned ostrich. While the bird gives him a wide berth, he often joins Apollo at the mud bath and pecks around while the rhino wallows.
After the mud bath, Apollo heads to the nearby baobab tree for a rest. As a young baby, this was his turf. Now that he’s older, his exploring range has expanded, but he still loves to nap under the tree’s giant branches. The Keepers gather Apollo’s favourite branches beneath the baobab, which offers further enticement for him to spend the heat of the afternoon resting in the shade.
While Apollo is growing up fast, he remains very much a baby in his Keepers’ eyes. He paddles after them devotedly, nudging them with his horn or squeaking when he wants something. His Keepers report that, despite the heat and difficult dry season, Apollo is enjoying life immensely and seems very happy.