Animals of different species can develop a strong bond, and even though it is rare to see these odd couples getting along with each other, we can all agree that it’s one of the most beautiful things in nature.
That’s just the case with two pachyderms who fell in love with each other.
In KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, you can find the Zululand Rhino Orphanage, the only dedicated orphanage in the area. They house numerous rescue rhinoceros, each of which has their own story of how they ended up an orphan in the wild. One of them is the rhino named Makhosi, a female white rhino who was rescued when rangers found out that she was having trouble surviving two days after being born.
Since the Zululand Rhino Orphanage doesn’t only focus on saving horned pachyderms, there are also some rescued African Hippopotamuses in their conservatory. A particular hippo named Charlie was saved by a rescuer from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife who noticed that the hippo was born prematurely and was not able to drink milk from its mother because of the drought.
Charlie was housed at the conservatory earlier than Makhosi. However, when Makhosi joined the family, they immediately fell in love with each other.
They were the sweetest pair in that conservatory and you could see how much they love each other.
Both of them had gone through harsh situations. The orphanage knew that both of them needed the best comfort they could give so they decided to introduce them to each other. Charlie unexpectedly became friends with Makhosi and they were both adorable. The orphaned pachyderms developed a bond so strong that it was hard to separate them.
You could see one around the other all the time, especially when it was time for their naps; they always snuggled next to each other. The same goes for their other activities like playing, eating, and even being bathed with a hose. Therefore, you could say that Charlie and Makhosi just learned how to live alongside each other without any problems.
Ever since Charlie met Makhosi, he started to forget how to act as one of his own.
The only problem with this was Charlie started to become more rhino-like than being himself. He forgot the habits and the ingrained traits that every hippo should have.
“He couldn’t understand why he needed to get in the water but the rhinos wouldn’t go in with him,” says Megan Lategan, the manager of the orphanage.
Charlie grew up acting like a rhinoceros since there are no hippos like him to learn from, and it became hard for the orphanage to release him in the wild while being in that state.
Luckily, the orphanage welcomed another hippo that was just perfect to introduce to Charlie.
Her name was Moomin. It took more than 20 hours to drive her to the orphanage after her rescuers found her huddled up next to her dead mother’s body. When Moomin reached the orphanage, it took a while to carefully introduce her to Charlie. In just three days, the hippos were able to find a strong connection from each other. Over time, Moomin managed to teach Charlie the basics of being a hippo.
Charlie and Mahkosi’s bond remained strong despite him being with Moomin most of the time.
The hippos hung out more than ever so that Charlie could finally become a hippo himself, but he couldn’t forget about his first friend, Mahkosi.
“They do still interact with each other, they still spend their days together, you can see them sleeping under a tree together during the day,” said Lategan.
With their unending efforts, Lategan was hopeful that they will be able to bring all three animals into the wild whenever they are ready.
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