In the wild, when a pregnant Sumatran rhino goes into labor, she seeks out a quiet, secluded area of the forest, away from other rhinos, to give birth.
In a captive setting, it’s important for caretakers to set up an environment that mimics nature as closely as possible, so plans for a safe and comfortable space for mom and baby are well underway at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary. As mother-to-be Ratu nears her due date, keepers will move her into a smaller enclosure called a “boma,” where she will be able to safely give birth under the watchful eyes of the lead veterinarian. If Ratu requires assistance during the birth, the veterinary team is ready to support her in this safe environment.
As part of our BIG baby shower, we’re working to outfit Ratu’s maternity boma with everything she and her new baby will need during their first few weeks together. In preparation for the birth, Ratu’s vets and keepers have put together a list of medical supplies and equipment necessary to ensure she and her baby remain healthy before, during, and after the birth.
Once in the boma, Ratu will continue to require extra nutrition to help feed her growing baby. At her last check-up, Ratu weighed more than 1,300 lbs. — and she’ll continue to gain weight right up until she gives birth. Once the baby is born, Ratu will still need extra calories to help produce nutrient-rich milk for her newborn.
A birth at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary is a momentous event. Veterinary and other rhino experts from around the world will be at the SRS during the weeks and days leading up to the birth.
Once Ratu goes into labor, everyone but the veterinary team and her lead keepers will be asked stay away from Ratu’s boma to reduce her stress level and make the birth as comfortable for her as possible. We are hoping to purchase and install a new closed circuit TV (CCTV) system (much like a human baby monitor!) so that all members of the SRS team can watch the birth live — from a safe distance. With new monitoring systems, support staff will know right away if the vets require any assistance.
In order to improve overall communication throughout the SRS area, staff have also requested a new digital radio system. Cell phones don’t work well at the secluded Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, so digital radios are a reliable way to transmit critical information. Digital radios are also a very secure communication method, so vets and rhino protection units can safely relay sensitive information without risking the security of the rhinos and their locations.
Preparing for a new baby at the SRS is hard work. The next two months will be very busy as we prepare for this historic birth!