Baby Rhino Befriends Zebra Foal After Being Orphaned at Just 12 Hours Old

A baby rhino that was found orphaned at just 12 hours old, with the umbilical cord still attached, is recovering at a wildlife sanctuary and has befriended a zebra foal that almost died during heavy rains in South Africa at the start of December.

The rhino calf, who has been named Daisy, was admitted to the Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary on December 9 after being found alone and struggling during a routine operation in Kruger National Park, South Africa.

She was incredibly weak and unable to stand and was flown by helicopter to the sanctuary where she was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).

Daisy was so young when she was found she had received no colostrum from her mother and her immune system was compromised. She struggled to maintain her body temperature and needed round the clock care and feeding every hour.

She was given a plasma transfer to help boost her immune system and, while still in the ICU, her health is starting to improve.

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In an email to Newsweek, Rachael Pfeiffer, from the Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary, said it is unclear whether Daisy's mother was alive. The rangers decided to fly her to Care for Wild so that the hyenas did not eat her.

Daisy was found during a "devastating week" for rhinos in South Africa. Dozens were killed by poachers over the space of just days. Poaching activity often increases in the run-up to Christmas, with calves often left behind to fend for themselves after their mothers are killed.

In a Facebook post on December 12, the sanctuary said there had been a "surge of babies."

Another calf, rescued 48 hours after Daisy, was found close to the body of a deceased rhino, thought to be its mother, that had been killed by poachers. This rhino calf, named Aquazi, is now doing well with other orphans at Care for Wild.

Modjajdi the Zebra Foal

At the end of November, a zebra foal was admitted to the Sanctuary's ICU after being found "motionless and barely breathing, after heavy rains and storms." The foal was thought to be just a week old and was treated for septicaemia and anemia.

The zebra, which has been named Modjajdi, has now befriended Daisy and is helping her recover in the ICU. Footage released by the sanctuary shows the pair together.

DAISY UPDATELittle Daisy is definitely feeling a bit brighter this afternoon. Veterinarian Dr Albertus Coetzee gave more plasma and her antibiotics...

"Modjadji is a young zebra foal who is also in the Intensive Care Unit," Pfeiffer said.

"She was found alone after heavy storms and rains, about six weeks ago. Modjadji is amazing company for Daisy and very affectionate towards her. They cuddle together at night which gives Daisy comfort and security. She is a friend that can be with her 24/7 and this in turn helps to prevent too much human contact with Daisy."

Daisy cannot yet be introduced to other rhinos at the sanctuary because she is too weak and vulnerable.

"It will take some time before she is strong enough to handle the other orphans. Closest in age to her is Aquazi whom she met in ICU but he just wanted to play and was a bit too boisterous for her at this stage," Pfeiffer said. "This is why Modjadji is so important."

Little Daisy has a spring in her step! It might be cold and wet but that’s not stopping our littlest calf! This terrible weather can be very dangerous...

Care for Wild is hoping to eventually release Daisy and its other orphaned rhinos to the wild. "However, rhino rescue and rehabilitation is not a quick process," Pfeiffer said.

"They drink milk until around the age of 17 months. She will enter the rewilding programme at around the age of 3 years. She will only become sexually mature at around 5-6 years old.

"Care for Wild's vision is to secure viable black and white rhino breeding populations in protected areas with the integration of communities and sustainable solutions."

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Stock image of a rhino calf. Daisy the rhino was found at just 12 hours old and is being cared for in the ICU of the Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary. Getty Images