A rhino sanctuary in South Africa is publishing heartwarming photos documenting the special relationship between a baby rhino and a baby zebra, both of whom were found orphaned in the wild.
“Modjadji was admitted to the sanctuary’s ICU at the end of November after being found motionless and barely breathing on the reserve after heavy rains and storms,” the sanctuary tells The Dodo. “Modjadji was thought to be just a week old.”
Just days later, in early December 2021, rangers found a baby rhino alone and fighting for life in the park. It still had its umbilical cord attached, and it was estimated to be less than a day old when it was discovered and rushed to the sanctuaries intensive care unit.
While the exact cause of Daisy’s abandonment is not known, she was discovered during a “devastating week” in which dozens of rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa in just a matter of days. Calves are often left behind after the poachers harvest the mothers’ horns, which are in high demand in Asian countries such as China.
Both animals pulled through after receiving round-the-clock care and treatments, and the zebra and rhino were given the names Modjadji and Daisy, respectively.
An Adorable Friendship is Born
Over the next weeks and months, the two babies found comfort with each other and became fast friends.
“Modjadji is amazing company for Daisy and very affectionate towards her,” the sanctuary tells Newsweek. “They cuddle together at night which gives Daisy comfort and security. She is a friend that can be with her 24/7 and this in turn helps to prevent too much human contact with Daisy.”
“Nothing gets past these two!” the sanctuary wrote on January 28th. “During their playtime outside the ICU, Modjadji decided to show Daisy where the milk is made! These two friends are becoming very mischievous…”
“The relationship between these two babies is so special,” the sanctuary wrote on March 30th. “Daisy really relies on Modjadji for support and friendship. Modjadji is so affectionate and protective of her friend.
“Whilst Daisy will eventually join the other orphaned rhinos and Modjadji will return to a herd of zebras, their unique friendship will always be a vital part of their rehabilitation journey.”
Care For Wild Rhino Sanctuary has a history of bringing unlikely animal friends together, Laughing Squid notes — it previously helped foster a friendship between a rescued baby black rhino and a rescued goat.
Daisy will be fed milk until around the age of 17 months, and she will be placed in the rewilding program at around 3 years old. Releasing her back into the wild one day is part of the sanctuary’s vision of promoting the “conservation of viable Black and White Rhino breeding populations in protected areas through community involvement and the integration of sustainable solutions.”