In the second half of the tour, we stopped to feed the rhinos. They got apples, and were surprisingly friendly. I'd almost go as far as to say that they are affectionate.
Unlike the giraffes, we didn't have to be the tree. They'd open up their big mouths, and we'd throw in the apple slices. We were free to pet and touch them as much as we wanted.
After they'd had enough apples, they both moved up to the front of the truck to see the driver, who they apparently were quite fond of. While he pet one through the driver's side window, another one went to the other side. When she didn't immediately get the attention that she wanted, she stuck her nose through the open window and reached in to demand that he pet her.
These guys weren't so friendly; and frankly, I think that they look mean.
The hole herd of them had those freaky looking light-coloured eyes, and vicious looking horns.
Something else that we learned - when horns curve in like that, it's a sign that the animal lives as a part of a herd. This allows them to work closely together without injuring each other with their horns.
This isn't a great picture, but those little spats on their feet are called Follow Me Markings.
When they've got their nose down to the ground, grazing away, it allows them to glance up quickly and see the feet of the herd around them and know which direction to move. Otherwise, they might wander too far from the herd.
Most grazing animals have them in one form or another. The higher the follow me markings on the leg, the higher the grass (or sometimes water) is where they tend to live.
This is Java. He's a clone.
Six years ago, he was cloned from a male that died about 20-some odd years ago. The idea was that his species is down to so few animals that inbreeding is preventing the population from being built back up. They wanted to create him to add a new genetic line to help with this, but Java is infertile.
I'm not sure what I think about cloning. It seemed almost right to me that he is infertile, but I don't object to what they were trying to do. It's a slippery slope, though.
This is Chuck.
He's the dominant male rhino at the WAP.
Our guide told a funny story about Chuck, which shows how non-violent rhinos tend to be. Apparently, he cut through between the dominant giraffe and a female that he was courting. The giraffe got all territorial on him, and lashed out. Chuck turned around and peed on the male giraffe, and that was that. The giraffe gave up and left the area.
For what it's worth, though, we were told over and over that Chuck is a "very healthy male". His sole purpose in life is to find himself a girl and get busy, and we saw him rooting around and marking his territory for the girls a few times. This may be a bit TMI, but it kind of blew my mind: the average male rhino's baby maker is five feet long. Because of that (and the corresponding length of the female's reproductive tract), rhino's can't be artificially inseminated. With that in mind, Chuck has himself an important job to do.
That was the end of the guided photography tour. After that, I didn't do much. My feet were too swollen for me to walk far, so I mostly stayed close to the entrance and photographed birds.
I did manage to get over to see the lions, though, and I passed the elephants on the way.
These elephants were behind two wire fences (so were harder to photograph); but the baby was so cute, I figured it was worth a shot.
This guy was trying to get the keeper's attention.
Then I found the lions.
This guy was chewing on a cardboard box, while sitting on top of an car that had been stripped down and left in the enclosure.
It reminded me of the way that Winter likes to murder wadded up bits of paper, only on a much bigger scale.
A Livermore Update!
12 hours ago