Photos of Orphaned Rhino and Zebra Babies Who Are Best Friends

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.

Care For Wild Rhino Sanctuary in South Africa first found a baby zebra in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, one of Africa’s largest game reserves, back in November 2021.

“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.

December 15, 2021. “Good morning world, my name is Daisy and today I am 7 days old! I don’t remember a lot about the last week because I slept a lot! My new family say they have been looking after me every hour of the day and night which is true because they are always there with me when I wake up scared. I really love my milk but because I am still so small, my tummy can only hold a little bit. I used to have a bottle every hour but now I have one every two hours! I didn’t get colostrum from my Mom so I was very weak and could get sick quickly. Earlier this week the older orphans helped me by giving me plasma which has made me stronger. I am getting stronger each day and by belly button is starting to close. My human family makes sure it stays very clean while it heals. My human family says there are other rhinos that I can soon make friends with. I am very excited about that! There have been lots of babies arriving at Care for Wild this week. We will introduce you to them all later this afternoon.”

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.”

December 24, 2021.
December 27, 2021. “Christmas was a bit of a blur for the team with Daisy taking another little dip over the festive weekend. Caregivers spent 24/7 in the ICU. She is so vulnerable at this stage that every day with her is a miracle. We are relieved to report that there is improvement and she retains her fighting spirit and desire to eat everything in sight! All hopeful signs. Please keep this little 18 days old baby close in your hearts.”
December 27, 2021. The two friends cuddling.
January 2, 2022.

January 8, 2022.
January 8, 2022.
January 10, 2022. “Daisy is one month old! Thank you for the unwavering prayers, messages, love and support for this little rhino baby.”
January 22, 2022. “Daisy is really doing very well. Daily weighing allows the caregivers to monitor her growth and progress carefully. Modjadji oversees this process most days and has also taken to checking the preparation of her friends’ milk!”

“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…”

February 12, 2022.
February 12, 2022. “Modjadji is so sweet and gentle and loves to cuddle. She is always so affectionate with little Daisy but today she came up to caregiver Will and just lent in for a hug.”

March 30, 2022.

“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.”