They say you never forget your first love. Mine’s about 5 feet tall, has a bit of an attitude and a very dirty nose. The moment was magical; I called to him, he ignored me, looked up briefly, then turned away obviously unimpressed. But for me, I was in love.
Jello’s the first rhino I’ve officially met. Originally from Miami, he lives at the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing MI. The 9-year-old black rhino is handsome (as rhinos go), and laid back. He is well cared for, and knows it. With an attitude remarkably similar to a cat, he comes to you in his own sweet time, but loves the attention once he gets it.
Watching his giant prehensile lip grab for treats, feeling his smooth wrinkled face, and touching his horn, so much goes through my mind. This gentle giant, with no threats except from us, being exterminated for a body part. He is both unassuming and docile, yet emotes an awe-inspiring strength and beauty unlike any other creature, except maybe the elephant.
This poor sighted, massive beast who could lay me flat if he chose, has a weakness for having the spot right between his horns rubbed. As I discovered, after just a couple of minutes into obliging him, there’s a reason the keepers utilize a wire brush for this purpose. The skin is remarkably thick and tough there.
Jello is not alone. A 6-year-old female, named Doppsee lives in an adjoined exhibit. According to her keepers, this beautiful girl is more loving, food motivated and skittish.
So skittish, that when the zoo installed a viewing window in the indoor exhibit, she was extremely fearful. The creative caretakers used a dummy outside the window, moving it every so often, to desensitize her to the new oddity in her home.
The zoo has plans to breed the pair via artificial insemination. Jello is prone to seizures, so for his safety, as well as Doppsees, this is the safer option. Like many other zoos housing rhinos, they are taking regular dung samples from Doppsee to analyze in hopes of finding the optimal time for conception. With a combination of behaviour monitoring and the scientific analysis, hopefully there is a Jello Jr in the future.
To see more of Jello and Doppsee go to YouTube : The Fight for Rhinos