CHESTER Zoo's rhinos took centre stage when Blue Peter went along to film them for a special feature which will appear on the BBC children's TV programme next week.
Chester Zoo is home to seven black rhinos and they were stars of the show when Blue Peter presenter Liz Barker and her film crew paid them a visit.
The rhinos and their keepers were filmed as part of a Save the Rhino feature to tie in with a story about Clara, the first ever rhino to be seen in Europe back in the 18th century, who is featured in the book Clara's Grand Tour by Glynis Ridley.
Clara was an Indian rhino born in 1741 and travelled with a Dutch trader to Europe. People had never seen or heard of such an animal before and thought they were witnessing a dinosaur which in turn caused Rhinomania. Clara's story is aimed at helping children understand the plight of rhinos which gave Chester Zoo the opportunity to talk about its rhino conservation work.
Among other things, viewers will see rhino Manyara being weighed and fed and Baringo II helping to raise funds by doing a painting.
Chester Zoo has a long history of managing and breeding black rhinos which have suffered a catastrophic decline in numbers due to poaching for its horn. It is estimated that the wild population is now down to approximately 3,600.
Only 25 years ago the Kenyan population of the black rhinoceros was in the region of 60,000. Today it is less than 500, although numbers are now increasing mostly due to in-situ projects which protect the rhinos from poachers.
Chester Zoo's chief curator Mark Pilgrim, who will be featured on the programme, said: 'It was a real pleasure to have Blue Peter at the zoo and we are all looking forward to seeing the programme.
'It will hopefully help to educate young view-ers about the plight of rhinos and the work zoos and charities like Save the Rhino do to protect and support them.'
Zoo staff are currently busy fundraising for Save the Rhino. Anyone wishing to donate to the appeal can contact Sarah McDonnell at Chester Zoo on 01244 650265.
The Chester Zoo rhinos will be shown on Blue Peter, BBC1, on Monday at 4.55pm.