The first images and aerial footage of our latest animal enclosure, Kifaru Reserve, have been released.
They give an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the new home being built for the black rhinos who will arrive in September.
The rhinos will reside in a five and a half acre, purpose built paddock which will feature a bespoke house that includes four indoor facilities, with enough space for a rhino calf.
The new rhino house also has built-in weighing scales, to make it easier to monitor the animal's health and wellbeing, and straw beds for them to sleep on.
Named after the Swahili word for 'rhino', Kifaru Reserve, will be home to two critically endangered eastern black rhinos. The herd will consist of one male, named Nkosi, and one female, Manyara.
Another rhino, Mala, was originally planned to come to Folly Farm, but is suffering from a skin complaint which is currently under treatment. To avoid causing any undue stress, she will be joining the two other rhinos when she has made a full recovery.
There are thought to be fewer than 650 eastern black rhinos left in the wild and just 66 in zoos across Europe. Folly Farm will be only the fifth zoo in the UK to hold this critically endangered species.
Jack Graddidge, the rhino keeper here at Folly Farm said:
"We're all really excited for the black rhinos to join our Folly farm family. I feel so lucky to be a part of this project from the beginning and being able to watch the construction of the enclosure on a daily basis. We've travelled to several zoos in the UK and even across the world to learn from other keepers who look after rhinos. I've even been on a fact finding mission to New South Wales in Australia, learning how to train the animals in Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.
"They're quite low maintenance animals. They roll in mud wallows to remove any parasites and keep cool so they don't need to be cleaned and their nails wear down naturally - so no need for a pedicure. They also form dung piles known as middens to mark their territory which is great for keepers as it means they poo in one place!"
"Black rhino, on average are approximately 1000-1300kg in weight, so enclosure design is very important to ensure they are happy in their new home. They sharpen and shape the horn by rubbing it on parts of their enclosure or in the wild tree stumps so this needs to be taken into account to avoid their horns growing oddly or developing notches.
"As solitary animals they generally do not enjoy the company of other rhinos so we needed to create separate interlinking rooms and so they can be moved around easily, accommodating their individual needs."
With fewer than 650 eastern black rhinos left in the wild, the IUCN Red List categorises them as critically endangered and they will be the 16th species to be in an Endangered Species breeding programme that Folly Farm is an active member of.
Kifaru Reserve is a flagship exhibit which will tell the story of the role of modern zoos in conservation and will highlight Folly Farm's hands-on commitment to conservation through the projects it supports in the wild and closer to home.
The new enclosure will tell the story of the threats to black rhinos in the wild and the conservation work that has been carried out to reverse their decline.
Folly Farm will also use the enclosure to raise money for the Rhino Dog Squad appeal by Save the Rhino. The money raised will help train dogs and dog handlers as they play a vital role in protecting rhinos across wildlife conservancies.