#RhinoWatch: Kapuki’s Ultrasound

March 28, 2019

Eastern black rhino with pinata enrichment shaped like Earth

As we continue #RhinoWatch and anxiously await the spring arrival of the rhino calf, there’s still plenty of work to do, including getting ultrasounds of the calf as it continues to develop.

The Animal Care staff at Regenstein African Journey, along with our veterinary staff and behavioral husbandry and enrichment manager, have worked together over the course of the last several months to prepare Kapuki for this type of veterinary appointment.

Her ultrasound preparation has been completely voluntary, meaning Kapuki chooses whether to participate—usually in exchange for some extra food—or leave whenever she likes. The team has worked with Kapuki often to help build trust and, over time, understand that certain behaviors result in delicious food rewards.

During these appointments, the vets first prepare the ultrasound equipment. Once in position, the rhino care team works with Kapuki to align along the habitat barrier within reach of the ultrasound machine. Using the cue word “closer,” Animal Care staff ask Kapuki to move as close as possible to the barrier. Once she scoots all 2,800 pounds within reach, a training whistle serves as an audio cue for a job well done, and Kapuki is rewarded with some preferred food items, like carrots or apples.

At the latest appointment, Kapuki participated in the ultrasound without any problems, but the calf was positioned on the other side of her body, preventing the vets from getting a clear picture.

Stay tuned using #RhinoWatch for another possible ultrasound before the estimated due date and follow along with Kapuki’s journey. Check out more behind-the-scenes photos and videos on the zoo’s #RhinoWatch Instagram story highlight and Facebook page.

Want to assist the zoo in purchasing more apples for Kapuki’s training? Browse the Wish List!