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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 March, 2004, 12:21 GMT
Rhinos adopted to save species
Baby white rhinos
Jane, Dorothy and Graham will be unveiled this weekend
An ageing arthritic rhino has adopted three white baby rhinos in a bid to save their species from extinction.

The rhinos arrived at Stirling's Blair Drummond Safari Park from South Africa in September but will make their public bow when the venue opens this weekend.

The three-year-olds have been taken in by new mother Alice and partner Dick, who have been at the park seven years.

It is hoped new arrivals Dorothy, Jane and Graham will take part in breeding programmes within five years.

It is estimated there are less than 8,000 white rhinos in the wild but hopes are high that each of the one-tonne trio will one day become proud parents.

Motherly instincts

Park manager Gary Gilmour said he was impressed by how ageing Alice, 38, had taken to the young rhinos, despite her health problems.

He said: "They are getting on like a house on fire and Alice has taken them under her horns.

"The wee ones have cheered her up and she has been having a rough and tumble with them.

"She has got them used to the reserve and shown them the good bits of grass.

"Her calming effect has helped them settle in."

The park plans to start a breeding programme with the three animals within the next five years to help increase the genetic diversity of their UK and European populations.

Blair Drummond attracts an estimated 300,000 visitors every year.

Rhinos in captivity are expected to live to between 35 and 40 years old.

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