April 12: Rhino crash marks re-opening of Whipsnade Zoo
- Credit: ZSL
A ‘crash of rhinos’ at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo put on a smashing opening ceremony today (Monday, April 12), getting the UK's largest zoo back open for business in the only way they know how.
The group of Southern white rhinos (also known as a ‘crash of rhinos’) were given their breakfast next to the 1.5m tall sign, made of stacked cardboard boxes, but it wasn’t long before the oldest of the group, 39-year-old Clara, decided to lead them all in some daybreak demolition.
Within minutes, the sign depicted a jumble of letters, which the rhinos enjoyed investigating in a leisurely way over their breakfast of hay.
The sign was created to welcome back visitors and members to the UK’s largest zoo after its closure of more than three months due to nationwide Covid restrictions.
Team leader Mark Holden said: “It is such an exciting day for us to be re-opening Whipsnade Zoo’s gates after restrictions prevented us from sharing our huge, outdoor site and its 3,500 incredible animals with our visitors.
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“Clara and our other rhinos may be in a playful mood, but sign or no sign, the hardworking keepers and staff at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will ensure every visitor knows how happy we are to see them once more, and how much we appreciate their support through such a difficult year for ZSL.”
Forced closures of Whipsnade and London Zoos meant ZSL, the international conservation charity behind the sites, has lost out on £26 million of income.
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Despite the trying circumstances, the zoo’s keepers, vets and ground staff have ensured the animals are as well cared for as ever and its huge outdoor site has extensive safety measures in place to give visitors a world-class wildlife experience.
Mark said: “With 600 acres to explore, we are the perfect place for anyone looking to blow off the cobwebs of lockdown and head into the countryside, where the world’s most incredible animals wait to be discovered.”
Families and animal lovers can book tickets for ZSL Whipsnade Zoo at www.zsl.org