Olive was a baby white rhino who was rescued by Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. She was about 6-8 months old when we met her. And what a character she was.

Baby White Rhino Moholoholo

She was one of three ‘big’ babies at Moholoholo. The other parties of the unlikeliest of trio’s was Petals, a gorgeous easy going sable and Gerald, a sensitive skittish giraffe. They spent their days and nights together, and were often seen roaming around the rehab centre together.

Baby White Rhino Moholoholo

Hard day at the office for Olive, the baby rhino

Olive was the ‘thirstiest’ of the babies. She still required two litre bottles of special milk formula every few hours, and she loved them. I never knew a rhino could make such squeaky noises, but you knew when it was close to her feed time as she became quite vocal. Tony had an opportunity to feed Olive one evening and boy that was an interesting experience!


Rachel, the Vet Nurse in charge of the vet clinic at Moholoholo was Olive’s surrogate mother, and boy was she an amazing rhino whisperer. Olive could sense if Rachel was nearby, even if we couldn’t see her. Olive knew she was coming and would start running in her direction. In fact, it was a common sight to see Rachel jogging around the compound, with Olive in hot pursuit. And seeing a huge baby rhino running was quite a sight. Not what you may expect, but heh, it was just another day at Moholoholo!

One day, whilst hanging around our bedrooms within the compound, we heard the cry “Watch out, Olive’s coming”! So we all braced ourselves against the walls of the buildings as you would, and sure enough around the corner came Rachel, followed by Olive in hot pursuit, followed by Gerald and Petals. Weird. But that was volunteering at Moholoholo.

In fact, there were regular bush walks where Rachel and the volunteers would take Olive into the nearby bush for a saunter. How to teach a baby rhino what the real African bush was like. Well, how funny was that!

Baby White Rhino Moholoholo

One time we came to an area where the path was a little bushier than normal and we had to push the bushes aside to get through. Well, Olive wasn’t having a bar of it as she got a little scared and was unfamiliar with that scenario. So it was very funny to see one volunteer trying to coax this huge animal through a small bush by first walking through it first and then calling to her. But it took the rhino whisperer to go through, and only then would Olive give it a go. Classic!

Baby White Rhino Moholoholo

Baby White Rhino Moholoholo

We had to babysit Olive during the day so she was never alone. There were Rhino Sitting Rules posted on the door to the volunteer common room – go figure. But they were worth noting.

Baby White Rhino Moholoholo

She had attitude. Just when you thought she was calm and relaxed grazing, she would charge at you, especially if you had taken your eye off her for just a second. I learned the hard way. She bowled me over once in a babysitting session while I was distracted listening to music on my ipad. Guess she didn’t like my music. Another time she had me running around a tree trying to get out of her way. I learned when she was hungry and hadn’t been fed, she got quite antsy especially if Rachel wasn’t around. Guess she didn’t like my rhino noises either!

Baby White Rhino Moholoholo

Babysitting Olive, the baby white rhino

[Photos and videos by Irene and Tony Isaacson]

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