Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is home to two Southern White Rhinoceros: Bertha and Goliath.  This species of rhinoceros (rhino) originates from Africa and is the largest and most docile of the rhinoceros species.  It’s no sweat for rhinos.  Rhinos, like pigs, lack sweat glands.  On a hot day, the greatest pleasure for a rhino is playing in and burying their bodies in mud pits.  The mud keeps the rhino cool, conditions the skin and keeps pesky bugs from biting.​​​​​

Grey is the new white.  The “white” in the name of this particular rhino does not refer to the color of its skin (this rhino species skin color is grey).  The word “white” came from a Dutch word, wynt.  In the Dutch language, wynt means square, which describes the rhinos flat, square shape lip used for grazing and gathering forage.  When translated by those speaking English, wynt was heard and translated as “white.”  And the ashy soil that the rhinos had been cooling themselves in, gave the English reassurance that they were hearing the Dutch correctly.

Horns forever.  The rhino is the only mammal with a horn that does not have a bone core. A rhino’s horn is made of compacted keratin, the same substance that makes up human hair and fingernails.  If a rhino horn is damaged or removed, it will continue to grow.  A rhino horn, when hit hard enough, can even be removed from its base—but it will very slowly grow again.

Tipping the scales.  Male rhinos can weigh up to 5,000 pounds (that’s more than 2 TONS). The rhino is the second largest land mammal in the world.  A rhino’s head can weigh up to 500 pounds.  The large hump on its neck is pure muscle, which enables him to hold up its 500-pound head.
Lemurs are from Madagascar, which is an island off the east coast of Africa.  Habitats on this huge island vary from tropical forests to dry deserts. Lemurs have adapted to survive in these diverse habitats.  The main diet of lemurs consists of leaves and fruits.  On occasions, they will even eat bugs.  At the Wildlife Ranch, they are fed a commercially formulated diet called lemur biscuits.  Ring-tailed lemurs spend more time on the ground than any other lemur species.  Lemurs are very social creatures and live in groups called troops.​​​  

The babies ride on their mother’s back until they are about 3-4 months of age.  Lemurs have scent glands on their forearms and on their “hind ends.”  They wipe the secretions that come from their scent glands on objects to mark their territory with their unique scent.  Lemurs use their long tails for many forms of communication.  They wipe their tails on their scent glands and wave their scent at other lemurs.  This is called “stick fights.”  Lemurs also walk with their tails held high in the air when moving to keep the troop (group) together.  The hands and feet of a lemur look very similar to humans.  Their palms are covered with soft, smooth rubbery type skin.  Lemurs even have fingerprints!  Ring-tailed lemurs have a distinctive “sunning” posture where they sit upright on their haunches, spread-eagle, and rest their forearms on their knees, exposing their undersides to direct sunlight.
​​​Damaraland Zebras are one of the most popular animals at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch.  The Damaraland Zebras have brownish colored “shadow stripes” between their black and white stripes.  Their stripes mainly encompass their body and sometimes do not carry all the way to their hooves.  This is an easy indicator that zebras are white with black stripes because you can see their legs are white where there are no stripes.  Zebras are closely related to horses.   They have been called “striped horses.”  Similar to horses, female zebras are called mares and male zebras are called stallions.  Babies are called foals.  Male baby zebras are called colts and female baby zebras are called fillies.   A baby zebra’s mane runs from its forehead to its tail.  Their hair is not slick like their parents.  It is longer and has a fuzzy, fluffy appearance.  Fifteen minutes after birth, zebras are able to stand. Within an hour, they are able to run and keep up with the herd (a group).
There are two species of camels: Dromedary Camels and Bactrian Camels.  Dromedary Camels have one hump (like the capital letter D) and the Bactrian Camels have two humps (like the letter capital letter B).  Bactrian Camels call Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch their home-away-from-home.  Their native land is the desert of Asia.  The Bactrian Camels are endangered, but they adapt well to their surroundings.  Camels can survive in extreme weather conditions, ranging from -20º F to over 100ºF and can go long periods without drinking water.  Camels shed their hair during hot seasons and grow thick, wooly coats during colder seasons.  They have broad hooves to move swiftly over the desert sand and mountains of their homeland.  Camels have unique layered eyelids and the ability to close their nostrils to protect them in sand storms.  Bactrian Camels are the larger of the two species and weigh up to 2,000 lbs.  They can carry heavy loads on their back for long distances.
When you think of birds, you think of them soaring in the wind.  But, not all birds can fly.  Ostriches are part of a group of flightless birds called ratites, which also includes rheas, emus, cassowaries, and kiwis.  Their name means “raft” in Latin (ratis) because their breastbone is shaped like a flat raft.  Ratites, unlike most birds, don’t need to fly to survive, as they are able to defend themselves due to their size and incredible running ability.  Ostriches can run up to speeds of 45 miles-per-hour.  Ratites also have a special feather called a “plume feather.”  These feathers are unlike bird-of-flight feathers because they lack the microscopic barbs that hold the feather together.   Plume feathers appear to be hair-like and fluffy, which helps them to move through the wind when ratites are running fast.  Since ancient times, people have decorated themselves with ratite plumes and used ratite eggshells to create water bottles and dishes.  The ancient Egyptians even trained ostriches to pull carts.
HORNS
Animal horns come in all shapes and sizes.  They are possessed by males and sometimes females, depending on the species.  They have a core made of bonethat is attached to their skull, with a cover made of keratin (same material human hair or fingernails is comprised). Animals use their horns to defend against predators. If an animal’s horn is broken or damaged, it will remain that way forever. It does not grow back.  Horns are permanent; they are not shed, but grow with the animal throughout its lifespan.

UNIQUE HORNS
Rhinoceros’ are the only mammal with a horn on its nose, which continuously grows throughout their lifespan.  Rhinoceros’ horns are missing the bony core, but like other horns, consist of strictly stainds of matted keratin.  Giraffes’ horns, or ossicones, have a bony core, but do not have a keratin sheath.  Instead of the keratin sheath, the ossicones are covered by a thin layer of hair.  

ANTLERS
Animal antlers come in all shapes and sizes and have branches and points.  Like horns, they are also used for protection.  Unlike horns, only male deer species at the Wildlife Ranch grow antlers, for which they shed and grow back each year. Antlers are not permanent.  Antlers begin growing as cartilage, covered by hairy skin referred to as velvet. Coinciding with rut or breeding season, the hormone change in male species will cause the cartilage in the antlers to turn into bone. This process is called ossification. Once antlers have turned to bone, the velvet will dry and fall off the antlers. Months later, the animal will shed their antlers. Animals will only be without their antlers for a few weeks before the process starts again.  A deer’s age cannot be determined by the size or number of points it carries on its antlers.  Caribou are the only animal species where both the male and female have antlers.