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Last Updated: Saturday February 12 2005 15:52 GMT

Zoo rhinos get sunbed skin help

A rhino
Two rhinos at a zoo in the Netherlands are being treated to sunbed sessions to help keep their skin in shape.

Rhinos Jennifer and Petra get to spend up to 20 minutes at a time using their custom-built 4m long sunbed.

The big beasts need sunlight and frequent wallows in muddy water to keep their skin healthy and smooth.

But during the winter months the temperature often falls below freezing so their mud pool is far too cold and they stay tucked up in their stable.

"Their skin was beginning to look a bit flaky and not uniformly grey any more," said Wybren Landman, a biologist who works with the rhinos at Emmen Zoo.

"They did not have this problem in the summer, so we decided to substitute the sun and ordered a custom-built sunbed," he explained.

Dry and flaking skin can be a problem for rhinos as they get older, but experts are now hopeful that the ultraviolet blasts will help Jennifer and Petra's blood circulation, and give them the extra vitamins they need.



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