National 31.3.2015 06:00 pm

Pizza outlet starts rhino preservation initiative

Gertjie the orphaned rhino. Pic: Lowvelder.

Gertjie the orphaned rhino. Pic: Lowvelder.

MBOMBELA ¬ The manager of Panarotti’s came up with a brilliant idea to make a unique contribution to the war on rhino poaching.

Although Panarotti’s is known for its pizzas, the branch at the Ilanga Mall under the leadership of Adele van Zyl has proven that ProNutro is going to be just as important an “ingredient” at this restaurant – maybe not for the hungry customers, but certainly for Gertjie, an orphaned rhino, Lowvelder reported.

On May 7 last year at the age of just three months, Gertjie was placed in the care of the Centre for Endangered Species in Hoedspruit after his mother was killed for her horn while the two of them were taking a mud bath.

The centre’s Ruan Roos said they found Gertjie pressing against his mother’s carcass while “crying” uncontrollably. The centre took him under its wing and now, 10 months later and with the help of Panarotti’s, the little bull rhino weighs almost 1 ton.

Gertjie drinks about 12 litres of milk and eats 50kg of food a day, and with Matimba – another orphaned rhino taken in by the centre recently – enjoys two and a half boxes of ProNutro porridge every day as part of their diet.

And this is where Van Zyl realised Panarotti’s could lend a hand.

While Gertjie is unable to enjoy Panarotti’s speciality – pizza – Van Zyl decided to lighten the centre’s load by launching a ProNutro campaign. Every Wednesday customers are invited to bring a box of Original Whole Wheat ProNutro to the restaurant in exchange for a free “kiddies” pizza or pasta.

“For Panarotti’s it is all about preservation. We want to get the community involved with projects like this and in particular want to get children to realise from a young age the importance of preservation and encourage them to play a part,” said Van Zyl.

Panarotti’s has also started a colouring-in competition, and kids can win an opportunity to meet Gertjie and his inseparable companion, a Pedi goat called Lammie.

Lammie arrived at the centre on August 4 last year when a farmer in the area answered its call for help to get a friend for Gertjie. Although Lammie was shy and uncomfortable at first, she quickly started following Gertjie around, and according to Roos the two young animals have been inseperable since spending their first night together.

“Lammie followed Gertjie everywhere he went, and he has never shown any aggressive behaviour towards her,” Roos said.

According to the centre, companions like Lammie are important for orphans like Gertjie. They not only provide companionship, but also minimise interaction with people – an important factor when animals have to be released back into nature.

Panarotti’s is challenging every child at every preschool in the entire Lowveld to bring a box of ProNutro on Wednesdays and colour a picture of Gertjie.

Gertjie is, however, choosy and only eats Original Whole Wheat ProNutro.

For more information, call Adele on 013-742-208/9 or 084-208-6779.

– Caxton News Service

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