Female rhino drowns after slipping into a watering hole at Dutch zoo

Female rhino drowns after slipping into a watering hole at Dutch zoo

September 20, 2021

Female rhino drowns after slipping into a watering hole as she ran away from an over-amorous new mate in tragic accident at Dutch zoo

  • Elena the rhino was ‘startled’ by the arrival of her new mate at the Wildlands park 
  • Her prospective new mate, a bull rhino called Limpopo, entered into her pen 
  • But after being chased, the exhausted female slipped and fell into a waterhole 
  • Zookeepers were unable to save her, and she drowned in the shallow pool 

A female rhinoceros has drowned after slipping into a watering hole as she ran away from an over-amourouse new mate in a tragic accident at a Dutch zoo.

Elena the rhino was ‘startled’ by the arrival of her new mate at the Wildlands park in the northeastern Dutch city of Emmen, officials on Friday.

After being chased, the exhausted female slipped and fell into a waterhole where she drowned, bosses at the park said.

Pictured: A pair of rhinos are seen amongst other animals at at Wildlands Adventure Zoo in Emmen, Netherlands (file photo, 2018). The park was the site of a tragic accident last week when a female rhino drowned after being chased by a prospective mate

Her prospective new mate, a bull rhino called Limpopo, had been placed into her enclosure as part of a proposed breeding programme.

Beforehand, they had been kept in separate enclosures and cautiously introduced to each other through smell and sight.

But the tragic event unfolded when bosses allowed the 19-year-old bull into Elena’s pen, which she shared with her sister named Zahra.

‘From that moment on it became restless,’ a spokesperson for park said, according to The Independent. ‘Both women were startled by the male and instead of putting him in his place together, they both ran off.

‘As a result, Limpopo gave chase. He seemed particularly focused on Elena because she was the closest to him.’

After a chase the exhausted female slipped into a waterhole, at which point zookeepers lured the bull rhino away from her.

‘Unfortunately, this help came too late for Elena and she had already drowned,’ the zoo said in a statement.

The 19-year-old Limpopo had arrived at the park in early September from another Dutch zoo where he sired three offspring as part of a European breeding programme.

The male and the Wildlands zoo’s two female rhinos, sisters Elena and Zahra, started getting to know each other by smelling and seeing each other in separate pens.

The tragic event unfolded when bosses allowed a 19-year-old bull rhino into Elena the rhino’s pen, which she shared with her sister named Zahra. Pictured: A rhino grazes a Wildlands Adventure Zoo, Emmen (file photo, 2017)

The ‘most exciting’ part, the zoo said, was planned for Thursday morning, before visitors arrived, when Limpopo was allowed into the area where the females were grazing.

‘From that moment on it became restless: both women were startled by the male and instead of putting him in his place together, they both ran off,’ it said.

‘As a result, Limpopo gave chase. He seemed particularly focused on Elena, because she was the closest to him.’

Both animals appeared exhausted after 15 minutes, and Elena slipped into a shallow pool of water, landed on her side and was unable to get up, the zoo said.

Caretakers were unable to stop her drowning.

Stunned zoo vet Job Stumpel paid tribute to the ‘beautiful, sweet, stable and calm’ Elena.

Pictured: Limpopo, the male rhino who chased the female. He had been moved from a German zoo six years ago because he ‘didn’t treat the female there properly’, reports said

‘You want to jump over there and lift her head above water but you couldn’t. Rhinos are not only very dangerous, but they also weigh almost 2,000 kilos (4,409 pounds),’ he told AD newspaper.

‘We raced to it with a shovel and chased the male away with it, so we could get to the female, but it was too late.’

The zoo said such an introduction ‘often requires intervention, but never before has one been fatal’.

Limpopo had been moved from a German zoo six years ago because he ‘didn’t treat the female there properly’, the Brabants Dagblad newspaper said.

Pictured: A mother and baby southern white rhino are seen at Whipsnade Zoo in the UK (file photo). The southern white rhino is listed as ‘near threatened’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, with 10,080 animals in existence

In his most recent home, the Beekse Bergen safari park near Tilburg in the southern Netherlands, he was a ‘proven breeder’ living with a herd of six females.

The southern white rhino is listed as ‘near threatened’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, with 10,080 animals in existence.

Rhinos are killed for their horns, highly prized across Asia for traditional and medicinal purposes.

But breeding them is difficult, as a female only gives birth to a calf once every three to four years, after a 16-month pregnancy, the zoo said.

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