Rhino mating experts give baby boost to Rumba and Rumbull
Two rhinos have received expert help in the hope of hearing the patter of not-so-tiny feet.
South African white rhinos Rumba and Rumbull have struggled to conceive naturally as rhino mating is a notoriously hit-and-miss affair.
Keepers at Noah's Ark Zoo Farm, near Bristol, have enlisted the help of German scientists to carry out a cutting-edge artificial insemination procedure.
The loved-up couple, who are well known as the "Rhinos of Wraxall", are a firm favourite with visitors and local residents.
Scientists Dr Robert Hermes and Dr Frank Goritz travelled from Berlin's Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research to the UK to assess the reproductive condition of the rhinos and carry out artificial insemination.
Sperm samples taken from male Rumbull proved of good enough quality to try in the procedure on mate Rumba, so the German team set to work.
Over two days two samples were inseminated and Noah's Ark keepers will now wait patiently to see if fertilisation was a success.
With a gestation of 16 to 18 months, it will be at least six months before keepers will know the result of insemination and a further 10 months until birth if this first procedure was successful.
Noah's Ark curator Chris Wilkinson said: "We're thankful to Robert and Frank for their expert work and care during the procedures.
"Rumba and Rumbull are doing very well and we're all excited for the future for them - fingers crossed for a baby rhino."