Monday, July 25, 2011

The 12-year-old whose best friend is a two-ton battering Rhino

With one stamp of its feet, this two-ton wild rhino could crush a human with ease.

But oblivious Elizaveta Tishchenko, 12, has become best friends with the beast and loves nothing more than to cuddle his leathery skin.

The pair have struck up an extraordinary relationship since orphaned white rhino Max was found wandering through the Laikipia District of Kenya as a youngster.

After being taken into the centre of rehabilitation at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya around three years ago, Max took a shine to the young girl while she was visiting the country.

Despite being renowned for their aggressive nature, five-year-old Max likes Elizaveta to stroke his back gently as he tucks into some grass.

And he even rolls around in the grass on his back so she can pet his stomach like a dog.

Her father Alexey, 40, said: 'We were told by guards in the area a new rhinoceros had been abandoned and taken in by the centre to look after him.

'After driving for about 20 minutes through the bush we noticed a white rhino jogging towards us.

'That wasn't too unusual as they aren't afraid of jeeps - but it stayed with us for a long time.
'We realised it was the young rhino workers were talking about so asked our guides to let us out of the jeeps and they did.

'Max paid no attention to the rest of us - he was too busy with eating grass while my daughter started to pat him like a puppy.

'He even let her pull his tail and didn't react to it in the slightest. He was completely comfortable with her and it just went on from there.

'Elizaveta couldn't have been happier. She loved it and loved her new friend. She doesn't stop talking about Max.'

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