Tiny Wild Rhino Curls Up Between Rescuers For Comfort
He'd just lost his mom, and he wanted to feel close to someone.
A tiny baby rhino in South Africa hadn't even been alive for more than a couple of weeks before he experienced the unthinkable.
Now named Marang, which means "ray of sunshine" in Tswana, the infant rhino was admitted to The Rhino Orphanage in South Africa late last month after being found beside the body of his mother, who was victimized by poachers seeking valuable rhino horn.
As soon as he was found, he was given a blindfold and earplugs to decrease his stress during the transition away from his mom. His whole world had just turned upside down.
People working in conservation, who are trying to save rhinos from extinction, were tasked with washing his mother's blood off of Marang's little vulnerable body.
Marang's disorientation and fear were palpable. But rescuers soon learned that he had a lot of strength in him.
"Our hearts are broken as yet another tiny orphan had to be admitted last night," The Rhino Orphanage wrote on its Facebook page. "The little boy, between 10 and 20 days old, slept for most of the night as he was still sedated."
Soon it was time to remove Marang's blindfold and let him start adjusting to his new life at the orphanage.
"He ... is a true little survivor, hungry and willing to live," the orphanage wrote.
Not only did Marang start nursing from a bottle on the very first try, he also showed his rescuers that despite all he'd been through, he was still eager for love and affection.
"The little boy is still going strong, drinking like a champ and hungry for more," the orphanage said in an update. "His vitals are looking good ... We have now removed his earplugs, as well."
Like with any big change, adjusting takes time. Luckily, Marang had plenty of people to help him through those first few uncertain hours in a new place. He curled up between two of his carers in a patch of sun and just rested, finally feeling safe.
After a few days, Marang was ready for a bit more activity. One of his three carers gave him a nice, calming mud bath to help his skin become healthier.
"Rhinos bond strongly to their carers and therefore it may be very stressful to the little orphans if carers are changed on a regular basis," the orphanage wrote. "The carers are with him 24/7, sleeping right by his side ... This intense human contact is then weaned when the baby is introduced to other calves of similar age and it always fascinates us how quickly they prefer the company of another creature to that of a human."
Marang has now started exploring the grounds of the orphanage, where he'll be able to safely grow up and eventually be introduced to new friends.
There's already a noticeable change in the young rhino — he's holding his chin up high, sniffing the air and soaking up the sunlight.
"We are happy to report that he has left the safety and comfort of his room with carer Yolandé for some exercise and sunshine," the orphanage wrote. "He loved it ... and fell asleep standing in the sun."