Happy Birthday Puri! Hellabrunn's baby rhinoceros celebrates his first birthday

On Wednesday, 31 August 2016, Puri, the baby rhino bull, celebrated his first birthday at the zoo. Now weighing approximately 620 kg, Puri is already a strong, young rhino - and was particularly delighted about his delicious birthday ice bombe.

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Müller

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Müller

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Müller

Puri noticed that the day was not like any other, because the gate to his outdoor enclosure remained closed for some time. When it eventually opened, he rushed outside filled with curiosity – what would this day bring? The keepers had prepared a very special birthday surprise for the little rhinoceros: an ice bomb with delicious fruit and vegetables. Next to it on a tree trunk lay a birthday present specially crafted by the keepers themselves: a toy made with two bamboo tubes with food in the middle, offering plenty of enrichment for the playful Puri. However, before he could play, mum Rapti first had a good look at the gift. Meanwhile Puri headed for the fruit and vegetables, which were arranged to spell "Happy Birthday, Puri!". He ignored the ice bomb for a while – but the little rhinoceros had the whole day to enjoy each of his presents.

Puri has developed splendidly in his first year. He is still suckled by his mum Rapti, but now also eats solids such as hay, carrots, cucumbers, grass and fresh branches. Although the calf already tips the scales at an impressive 620 kg, he is expected to grow to a weight of 2,200 kg by the time he becomes an adult bull. But this transition to adulthood will take time. Like most rhino calves his age, Puri likes to romp in the mud and swim and splash about in the water basins of the outdoor enclosure – which he finds pleasantly refreshing, especially on hot summer days.

Puri was born at Hellabrunn Zoo on the morning of 31 August 2015. After 492 days in the belly of mum Rapti, the 60 kg bull became the first Indian rhino baby to be born in Europe in 2015. In the first few days after birth, Puri was already drinking up to 35 litres per day of his mother's milk – as a result the baby rhino grew rapidly and has now gained tenfold his birth weight during the first year of his life!

Puri has not only grown in body weight, but also in self-confidence, and one can often see him practising one of his favorite pastimes: irritating his mum Rapti. Even the keepers have to endure his rebellious streak. He is determined to do things his own way and likes to explore his surroundings on his own.

Those who wish to give Puri a belated birthday gift can do this in the form of an adopt an animal sponsorship. Neither Puri and nor mum Rapti currently have a sponsor. "By adopting an animal at Hellabrunn Zoo, the sponsors are supporting the zoo not only in the maintenance and care of the animals, but also the zoo's conservation work for the protection of species," says zoo director Rasem Baban. Hellabrunn Zoo is particularly committed to the conservation of the Indian rhinoceros and participates in the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) for the preservation of Asian rhinoceros species. Since Rapti was born in Asia and arrived at Hellabrunn from Chitwan National Park in Nepal, her son Puri plays an important role in the breeding programme. "It is not yet known which female Indian rhinoceros Puri will be coupled with in a few years," adds Baban. The decision rests with Basel Zoo, which coordinates the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) and the International Studbook (ISB) for Indian rhinoceroses. "But for now, Puri will live with his mother in our zoo - allowing the sponsor to regularly visit their adopted animal."

All visitors to Hellabrunn Zoo can see Puri together with his mum Rapti daily between 9am and 6pm in the Rhino House or its outdoor enclosure. Puri's father Niko can also be seen in a separate enclosure.

About the Indian rhinoceroses at Hellabrunn Zoo
Niko and Rapti, the parents of the Indian rhino Puri, have known each other since 1990. In August 1989, Rapti travelled from her native Nepal to Hellabrunn Zoo. Niko (born on 27.11.1988) arrived in Munich shortly after from Wilhelma Zoo in Stuttgart.

General information about Indian Rhinoceros
With a shoulder height of up to 185 cm and weighing more than 2,000 kg, the Indian rhinoceros is the largest of the three species of Asian rhinoceroses. Unlike its two African relatives and the Sumatran rhinoceros, it has only one nasal horn - similar to the Javan rhinoceros - which can grow up to 20 cm. Indian rhinoceroses tend to rub their horn on the ground or on rocks, often resulting in the horn being worn down to a thick knob.
Today the natural habitat of the Indian rhinoceros is confined to a few areas in southern Nepal, the Terai Arc Landscape and seven refuges in the two Indian states of West Bengal and Assam.