Keepers at Whipsnade Zoo give rhinos festive feast to spread Christmas cheer

Rocking around the Christmas veg!

Wednesday, 23rd December 2020, 2:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd December 2020, 2:04 pm

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo has been forced to close its doors as Bedfordshire enters Tier 4 just ahead of the Christmas break – but jolly keepers, determined to drum up some Christmas spirit, created a festive feast for the Greater one-horned rhino herd.

Despite being closed for the third time this year, keepers at the UK’s largest zoo produced a spread of the rhinos’ favourite Christmas vegetables, presented on a plate of banana leaves.

The herd devoured their dinner, quickly revealing the only youngster in the UK guaranteed to eat all of their greens this year - one-year-old calf Zhiwa.

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Keepers at Whipsnade Zoo give rhinos festive feast to spread Christmas cheer (C) ZSL

Team leader, Mark Holden said: “With so many people’s Christmas plans thrown into disarray by the new restrictions, we are determined to spread some cheer for animals and people alike.

"For our rhinos, carrots, cabbage, and a big pile of hay are the perfect festive feast, with banana leaves as a sweet treat.”

Although Whipsnade Zoo’s doors are closed to visitors, zookeepers, vets, and essential staff will continue to go to work every day – including Christmas Day - to ensure the zoo’s animals are well cared for this Christmas – as well as ensuring they eat a varied diet.

Mark added: “Unlike many parents, Behan has no trouble getting her little one to eat the Christmas veg on her plate.

The zoo produced a spread of the rhinos’ favourite Christmas vegetables, presented on a plate of banana leaves (C) ZSL

"Zhiwa particularly enjoys the carrots because she can playfully toss them around before crunching on them.

“Our not-so-little one weighs more than forty times the average toddler at 500 kg (78 ½ stone) and eats over four tonnes of greens a year.

"Santa certainly delivered for the rhino-ho-ho this year and maybe some children will be inspired by Zhiwa’s love of veg.”

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is currently closed to the public, in accordance with government guidance.

The herd devoured their dinner (C) ZSL

Reliant on income from ticket sales to continue its global conservation efforts, ZSL, the charity behind Whipsnade Zoo is asking the public to consider making a donation this Christmas – with all donations doubled until 4 January, thanks to a generous donor. Click here to find out more.