Animals from A: Vaiana rhino transported in a custom-made box from Plankendael to Peru (Mechelen)

In Planckendael, a very special suit awaits you next to the unicorn enclosure. The container is still empty at the moment, but that will change soon. In a custom-made coffin, Vaiana (2.5) will travel from Plankendael to Peru. With an extra tasty treat in the box, the caretakers teach the little girl to put it in.

Becky Lawtours

It takes a long time to train this rhino to get into completely unfamiliar territory – because this is a metal box anyway. “But with patience and a lot of love you can go a long way,” laughs caretaker Julianne. She is busy with preparations. The doors of the box must be fully open. The tastiest food goes as deep into the box as possible and all snoopers are kept at a distance.

“Vaiana is a very brave girl, she doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything, but she doesn’t trust the box anyway. So the training takes a little longer than planned and we don’t want to risk something that might surprise her and make her very suspicious again. Then she wastes months of work” Julianne explains. With tape on either side of the box, mates are urged to curl up while training is in progress.

The little unicorn not only has to get used to the box, but also to the caretaker on the roof. There are feeding holes in the roof of the container. In this way, a caregiver traveling with Moana can provide her with food and drink during transit.” © Joris Heregods

When everything is ready to let Moana and Mama Karamat in, a caretaker climbs onto the box. “You should get used to it too,” the caregivers laugh, to our surprise. There are feeding holes in the roof of the container. In this way, a caregiver traveling with Moana can provide her with food and drink during transit.”

Rhinoceros leads a solitary life. The young stay with their mother until they are 3 to 4 years old. At this point, the mother usually becomes pregnant again and the older cub goes his way,” Julien explains. “Moana doesn’t travel alone. She leaves Rotterdam for South America with a baby rhino. The rhinoceros is the symbol of international breeding programs. These two animals are so far moving to introduce new breeds into the American breeding program. To calm the animals down, a caretaker will likely accompany them during transportation.”

Moana with her mother, Karamat. © Joris Heregods

Now all the preparations have been made: the apples and carrots are ready, the caretakers are at their sites. One of them stands on top of the coffin and tempts Vaiana with sweet words. The second is on the roof and the third distracts Mama Karamat. “Alone, Vaiana still doesn’t trust her. Keramat should always stay nearby and then persevere bravely. Meanwhile, the first legs go fairly smoothly, and the last two stay tough. Then you see her wiggle and think ‘Do I dare go for this?'” The box?”. However, we never close the casket. We only do it on the day you actually leave.

When exactly this is the case, the caretakers do not yet know. At first they thought of organizing the transport before Christmas, but all the papers were not yet completed. It also intends to transport two rhinos, from Blankendael and Rotterdam, together. For now, Vaiana is still happily walking around Mechelen with the coffin doors still open.

Moana with her front legs in the box, and the last two kept safely outside the transport container for as long as possible. © Joris Heregods

Indian rhino identifier

  • Habitat: Forests, grasslands and swamps of India and Nepal

  • food: Aquatic plants, fruits, herbs and herbs

  • Size: 1.75 – 2 meters (shoulder height)

  • Weight: 1800 – 2200 kg

  • Omar: up to 60 years old

  • condition: vulnerable

  • Special: At birth, the cubs do not yet have a horn. It will only get in the way when giving birth and while drinking. After about five weeks, a distinctive horn begins to form on the nose. At birth, a rhinoceros cub weighs about 70 kilograms, and after about half an hour the little one is already on its feet. “Between flaps, rhinos are pink at birth, just like babies. While in adult animals they are gray,” says Julianne.

Vaiana if allowed to take its first steps outside in July 2020. Here you can still clearly see that the skin between the shells of a rhinoceros cub looks pink. © ZOO Planckendael

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