Scotland

Rhinos Lucy and Ailsa swap between Blair Drummond and West Midland safari parks

Lucy the rhino arriving in Scotland
Image caption Lucy travelled more than 300 miles from West Midland safari park to Blair Drummond safari park
Lucy the Rhino
Image caption It is hoped that Lucy will eventually mate with Blair Drummond's mature bull rhino, Graham
Crane lowering a rhino into her enclosure
Image caption Lucy was lowered into her enclosure by a team of experts using a crane
Lucy the Rhino
Image caption After sniffing the ground for several minutes, Lucy took her first steps around her new enclosure

Two rhinos have been swapped between UK safari parks as part of a European breeding programme.

White rhino Lucy, who weighs two tonnes, has been moved to Blair Drummond, near Stirling, from West Midland safari park in Worcestershire.

A team of experts used a crane to lower her into the rhino enclosure after the journey of more than 300 miles.

In exchange, two-year-old female Ailsa has been transported to the Worcestershire park from Scotland.

The swap aims to avoid in-breeding within rhino populations.

'Near threatened'

Lucy will be given time to adjust to her new surroundings before being introduced to the park's other rhinos - Dot, Graham and their five-month-old calf, Angus.

It is hoped that Lucy and Graham - Blair Drummond's only mature bull rhino - will eventually mate.

Chris Lucas, head of large mammals at Blair Drummond safari park, said it was necessary to swap the rhinos because Ailsa did not have an appropriate male rhino with which to mate.

He said: "The only mature bull rhino we've got here is her father (Graham) so it's not practical to keep her here."

He added: "Exchanges are becoming more common now.

"Lots of zoos and safari parks across Europe are working together with the idea of exchanging their rhinos in order to maximise the breeding potential of the captive European population."

White rhinos are classed as "near threatened" in the wild, with a population of only 17,500.

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