White Rhino Play
“King of the hill” was a
popular game with one group of three young white rhino
that I looked after. We had a large rock in each boma
that was intended for horn rubbing and belly scratching,
but that often became the prize over which these young
rhino fought. During one of their sparring sessions,
one of them would inevitably walk over and put one or
both front feet on the rock, challenging her/his
opponents. One would always engage and a squeaking,
snorting, pushing and sparring battle would ensue until
the first rhino was either dethroned or managed to hold
on to his/her position on the rock.
behavior in white rhino is seen most often in young calves. They
might play alone or engage with their mothers. If their siblings or
other youngsters are with them, they will often spar or play
together. Play behavior in adults is rare, but does occur.
behaviors demonstrated by adult rhinos are learned and practiced
through play as adolescents. Sparring is a common past time and can
help hone fighting skills for territorial battles and/or
self-defense or defense of offspring later in life. Wallowing,
while practical, also appears to be a fun pastime for white rhino
and after wallowing, they often run, spin, and bounce. The cool
temperatures of early morning or late evening can also spark these
playful energy bursts.
do not throw their heads up during play as readily as black rhino do
due to the large mass of their skulls and their muscular design,
which inhibits this motion. They do, however, shuffle their feet
and plow with their horns like black rhino. They run and spin, and
though they do bounce between their front and back feet, that is a
behavior primarily seen in younger, smaller white rhino.