Baby Rhino Won't Sleep Alone After Poachers Killed Mom

Little Gertjie getting some TLC from endangered species center

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 10, 2014 2:57 PM CDT | Updated Jun 14, 2014 7:19 AM CDT

(Newser) – Gertjie is only four months old, but he's got a backstory terrible enough to keep most people awake at night, so perhaps it's no surprise that the little guy has trouble sleeping by himself. The Independent has the tale of the baby rhino, who came to live in South Africa's Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center after he was found lying next to the body of his mother, killed by poachers for her horn. "It was a devastating sight, as the tiny animal would not leave her side, and was crying inconsolably for her," says a statement from HESC.

Things are looking up for Gertjie, though: He's something of a rock star among HESC's staff, who feed him every three hours, notes the Daily Mail. A human minder slept in his enclosure the first night and someone sleeps just outside it now. Plus, he has a surrogate mom in the form of Skaap, a sheep. HESC plans to raise him til he's weaned at 15 to 18 months, at which point he'll be returned to the wild. In the meantime, he's got his own live cam. (Click to read about another animal that was inconsolable, until he was reunited with a friend.)

A rescued baby rhino named Gertjie likes to cuddle with his keepers at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre in South Africa.
A rescued baby rhino named Gertjie likes to cuddle with his keepers at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre in South Africa.   (YouTube)
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