Cats are sweet creatures who love snuggling with their loved ones—when they feel like it, at least! It turns out, humans aren’t the mammals that cats form bonds with. A zoo in the Czech Republic, Safari Park Dvůr Králové, found that cats get along incredibly well with their endangered black rhinos!
One of the zookeepers, Jan Žďárek, came up with the idea to put cats in the rhinos’ enclosure almost twenty years ago.
“Jan Žďárek’s idea was to use cats to avoid mice, squirrels, and rabbits and as an enrichment tool for the rhinos as well,” zookeeper Oliver Le Que told Liftable.
The first cat they brought in was named Kočka. Kočka was a black rescue cat—Žďárek joked that they could only mix black cats with black rhinos. At first, Kočka was naturally a bit wary around the gigantic rhinos. But soon, Kočka and the rhinos began getting along. Kočka loved cuddling with the large creature!
Over the past 20 years, more and more rescue cats have been added to the rhino encloses. Today, there are three black cats living with the rhinos: 12-year-old Džinks, 10-year-old Mia, and 5-year-old Tily.
While the rhinos and cats mostly get along, there was one incident: a young rhino named Jasiri bit off the top of Mia’s tail. After this incident, the zookeepers carefully introduced Mia to one of the other rhinos, Emilka. The zookeepers closely monitored the situation, making sure Mia was okay. But the cat harbored no ill-will towards the rhinos.
Mia purred and cuddled with the rhinos just like she had before the incident, and she grew very close with young Emilka.
“Mia and Emilka look forward to seeing each other everyday. It’s beyond sweet,” photographer Ami Vitale said.
In February 2019, a video of Emilka and Mia went viral. The video showed the pair cuddling together.
View this post on Instagram
Video by @amivitale. I am honored to be speaking as part of TEDx Bergamo (@tedxbergamo) in Italy on March 16. The topic is Wonder, the magic of a singular event. Tickets are available now to hear all 12 incredible speakers at TedxBergamo.com. Hurry! They're going fast. This video is of two best friends! The adorable kitty Mia had her tail bitten off by a different rhino when she was younger. But, she persisted, kept her heart open and found true love with a rhino named Emilka at Dvur Kralove @safariparkdvurkralove They're best friends. Mia and Emilka look forward to seeing each other everyday. It's beyond sweet. ❤️❤️❤️ @thephotosociety @natgeo #WorthMoreAlive #protectrhinos #DontLetThemDisappear #rhinos #saverhinos #stoppoaching #prague #czechrepublic #photojournalism #nikon #nikonambassador #natureisspeaking #catsofinstagram #catstagram #kitties #cat #amivitale
Over 160,000 people have watched this adorable video. Everyone loves seeing how happy Emilka and Mia are together!
Many people wanted to see more footage of Mia with the rhinos, and so the zoo shared another sweet video of the pair cuddling.
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Video by @amivitale. Back by popular demand! Here is more of Mia and Emilka. Mia, the kitty had her tail bitten off by a different rhino when she was a little thing. But she persisted, kept her heart open, and one day found true love with a rhino named Emilka at Dvur Kralove @safariparkdvurkralove in the Czech Republic. This is the same place where the last northern white rhinos came from and they have been instrumental in saving species from the brink of extinction. ️️️ @thephotosociety @natgeo #WorthMoreAlive #protectrhinos #DontLetThemDisappear #rhinos #saverhinos #stoppoaching #prague #czechrepublic #photojournalism #nikon #nikonambassador #natureisspeaking #catsofinstagram #catstagram #kitties #cat #amivitale
Once Jasiri was a bit older, the zookeepers re-introduced one of the cats into her pen, Džinks. Thankfully, everything went well, and the two quickly became best buddies!
In May 2019, Jasiri embarked on a new adventure.
Jasiri and five other rhinos from different zoos in Europe are going on a very special trip back to Akagera National Park in Rwanda. Hopefully, these rhinos will be able to help increase the dwindling population of rhinos in Africa.
Džinks, Mia, and Tily are three sweet cats who are doing a great job looking after their gigantic rhino friends! If you want to learn more about the cats and rhinos, check out Safari Park Dvůr Králové’s Instagram page.
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h/t: Western Journal