An “absolutely delightful” black rhino from a zoo in North Yorkshire has embarked on an “epic journey” to Africa where she will be released into the wild as part of a conservation project.
Eight-year-old Chanua’s departure from Flamingo Land, in Kirby Misperton, near Malton, on Wednesday afternoon was said to have gone “very smoothly”.
Staff at the zoo said it had been an “emotional 24 hours” as they said goodbye to the critically endangered animal they have looked after for the past four years.
Chanua will travel to Kent, where she will be introduced to two other female rhinos, before being taken by air to Tanzania – the home of Flamingo Land’s Udzungwa Forest Project.
She will be released into a semi-captive environment, where her dried food and pellets will be replaced by a local, natural diet and she will be monitored by vets before being released into the wild.
Chanua is the second black rhino to be released by Flamingo Land, who moved female rhino Olmoti into the National Park in Rwanda in 2019 in the biggest translocation of rhinos ever to Africa.
Staff at the zoo have been preparing Chanua for her move over the last three weeks by helping her to become comfortable being in her travelling crate and getting her used to the unusual noises she would hear during her move.
‘An emotional 24 hours’
Gordon Gibb, the owner of Flamingo Land, said: “Stage one of her epic journey has been completed excellently. It’s been an emotional 24 hours.
“She’s an absolutely delightful individual is Chanua, very relaxed, playful and inquisitive, a delight to deal with.”
He added: “It was a very cool, calm process preparing her for today, which went very smoothly.”
Mr Gibb said the collection of animals at Flamingo Land could be described as a “Noah’s Ark” – helping to conserve critically endangered species – and said the “end game” of the work they carry out at the zoo is to release animals into the wild.
He said: “It’s an amazing, fulfilling role that we’re doing. I can’t think of a more rewarding thing to be involved with.”
There are around 5,000 black rhinos left in the wild worldwide and only 187 in Tanzania, with poachers being one of the biggest threats to the species.