How Hannah got her Peanut “back”

[Title courtesy of Willie – who thought it sounded better than “How Hannah found her Peanut again – maybe . . .”!]

One of the things I love about blogging, is that I sometimes get comments or emails from people who have a personal connection to one of my stories. Recently, Hannah wrote to me saying that she thought she might have been the person who raised Peanut – the rhino who is now Hercules’ mate. [If you are new to this blog and don’t know the back-story read this post first.] This is not just another story of a person raising a baby rhino, it’s an unusual love story too. Hannah and I have exchanged several emails, so I’ll quote from her comments and emails and let her tell the story . . .

In her original comment, Hannah said

I was absolutely stunned to stumble across this blog this afternoon – please tell me more about Peanut and where she is from… My husband and I raised a rhino calf we named Peanut over a year ago. We had to take her into captivity when she was already 6 months old but she was so tiny compared to another calf of a similar age and my husband, the ecologist on the reserve at the time, decided to take her in and hand rear her – her Mother was 38 years old (very old for a rhino) and it was thought she was not producing enough milk. When the vet arrived to help us dart the tiny calf, he said she was the size of a 6 WEEK old. The following months involved intense hard work, building of bomas, day and night feeding of milk and eventually luscerne, cleaning, keeping warm, walking with the calf in the veld . . .  And after all the love and care that went into her rearing, the rhino was sold to another reserve. Since then we have never heard any news of our baby Peanut or where she ended up. Please let me know if you have any information about Peanut’s history, where she came from etc. It would be wonderful to hear how she is doing. I am so excited at the idea of our Peanut having a mate, especially a hero called Hercules. I look forward to hearing from you.

After comparing notes with Cecile (the lady who raised Hercules, Peanut’s new mate), it seems that this is the same Peanut which Hannah and Darius raised. As we corresponded more of their story emerged . . .

Darius and I met at Mabula in February 2010. I came over from UK to study FGASA [Field Guide Association of Southern Africa course] because I had a few months with nothing planned and was desperate to learn more about the bush, and I had spent a lot of time at Mabula on holiday previously. Darius being the ecologist there got to do the course for free, and there we met. I had so many plans to go home and continue studying and travel the world, but never quite got around to it . . . Instead I fell in love, got engaged, and became the mother of a rhino!

Peanut and her mother. [Image: Hannah & Darius Mellet]

Darius and Hannah were both working at the Mabula Wildlife Reserve when they took in Peanut.

Darius named Peanut as soon as he saw her – he said she was the smallest new-born white rhino he had ever seen, and the name just sort of stuck. We didn’t realise anyone else would ever learn her name!

Three or four months later Darius asked me if I would be the mother of a rhino calf who wasn’t going to make it in the wild. Of course I thought this was a wonderfully exciting prospect and I had NO idea of how difficult it was all going to be. So I became a full-time Mum to a ‘tiny’ animal who was twice my size! Darius proposed to me just two weeks later and so the wedding preparations began, all while spending every moment with the rhino.

Hannah, Darius and Peanut. [Image: Hannah & Darius Mellet]

We also got a sheep friend to keep Peanut company – we named the old lady ‘Sultana’ and tragically she had to be put down after a couple of months because Peanut broke her leg. Just like Hercules, Peanut had no idea of her brute force and strength. Before that however, Sultana had a lamb. We gave the lamb ‘Raisin’ to the farmer who originally donated the sheep who was shocked – he thought she was far too old and past it!

Hannah and Peanut [Image: Hannah & Darius Mellet]

The owner of Mabula realised how valuable Peanut now was, being a ‘tame’ rhino, and thought it was more worth his while selling her than setting her free on the reserve. All we ever heard was that she was going to be released with a young male and it was hoped he would protect her. We were under the impression he was older than her – certainly not the tiny thing Hercules was in the photos you published! But either way, we hoped she would be set free one day somewhere safe from poaching. Her mother died about a year ago now, she was within months of being 40 years old and she had 7 calves in her lifetime so she did her bit for rhino conservation! Peanut’s official name was 7.7 (the 7th calf of cow 7, who we called ‘Ouma’).So that is the story of our once little ‘Fruit and Nut’ Family! It was an amazing time, and I can’t believe how lucky I was to be a part of it.

Peanut at 8 months [Image: Hannah & Darius Mellet]

Darius’ work fascinated me, he would take me along to supplement the rhino, buffalo and elephant, we would release caracal on the reserve, animal dartings from lion to buffalo, annual game counts – it was just so exciting for me! I became a bush girl in no time, and I’ve never looked back. Being in the hospitality industry it has just worked out perfectly for both of us, being able to work together in such a wonderful environment, every single day.

Hannah and Darius now work at the Ubizane Wildlife Reserve (a 1200 hectare reserve with two lodges) in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Their lives there sound so interesting, that I’ve invited Hannah to be a guest blogger on Notes from Africa and to share her bush stories with us.

If there was any doubt what a huge role Peanut played in Hannah and Darius’ love story – The Wedding Cake with figures of Hannah, Darius, Peanut and Dingetjie (an English Pointer being trained as a retriever and an anti-poaching dog). [Image: Hannah and Darius Mellet.]

Thank you to Hannah Mellet for sharing this wonderful story and photographs with me!

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Nature/Environment, Random


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at and (my photoblog)


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25 Comments on “How Hannah got her Peanut “back””

  1. June 26, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    What a great story,

    • June 27, 2012 at 9:28 am #

      Isn’t it an amazing story? Thanks for reading and leaving a comment! 🙂

  2. June 26, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    My goodness – what a STORY! I was riveted from the first words. So pleased that Hannah got hold of you and that we now know the amazing story of Peanut’s childhood! Tears in my eyes… wow… Oh, and I totally love the unique wedding cake.

    • June 27, 2012 at 9:30 am #

      I was so excited to hear from Hannah, and grateful that she wanted to share her story on my blog. That wedding cake is very special.

  3. June 26, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    What an AMAZING story!! I love Hannah’s face and that rhino is just TOO TOO adorable. (great name, btw)… that is a sweet, sweet cake!

  4. June 26, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    OMG, Lisa, what a great story! Truly amazing. Can’t wait to hear some of Hannah’s other stories, as well!

    • June 27, 2012 at 9:35 am #

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, Kathy. I’m hoping that Hannah will find the time to tell some more of her stories. If not on this blog, then somewhere I can link to.

  5. June 26, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    How nice that your blog has provided someone else with a happy ending! Looking forward to the guest blogs.

    • June 27, 2012 at 9:38 am #

      I never knew when I started blogging, that I’d be hearing from people like Hannah. It certainly has made it an even more rewarding activity for me.

  6. June 26, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    This is a great story! Thanks for sharing ~~

  7. June 26, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    I am so happy to read this. It’s truly wonderful. This is a love story x 2!
    Can you provide us another update on how Peanut is doing now?
    I’m looking forward to reading more about Hannah’s stories.

    Blogging does indeed make the world a small place.

    • June 27, 2012 at 9:42 am #

      It is such a wonderful love story – and who can resist a cute little rhino?! Peanut (and Hercules) are now on a private game reserve (not open to the public), so it’s more difficult to get news of them. I’m hoping that Cecile (who raised Hercules) will be able to visit them from time-to-time, and keep us updated.

      Hannah is being kept quite busy, so I’m not sure how much time she has to write. But I also hope to hear more about her life in the bush.

  8. June 26, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    Wow, I’m speechless. Wonderful in so many ways.

    • June 27, 2012 at 9:43 am #

      Yes, I was also amazed when I got that first comment from Hannah. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment! 🙂

  9. June 27, 2012 at 6:43 am #

    This is such a great story! And I love the cake.

    • June 27, 2012 at 9:44 am #

      Yes, I love the cake too. It’s one of the most unique and personal wedding cakes I’ve ever seen.

  10. Lu
    June 27, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    What a brilliant story, and I love the cake decorations! – Although Dingetjie doesn’t quite fit the “Fruit’n’Nut” family theme – unless it was some unidentified ingredient – you know, one of those dingetjies…
    Yes, more stories about Peanut and Hercules – and more stories from Hannah, please 🙂

    • June 28, 2012 at 8:43 am #

      One of those dingetjies . . . LOL! Hannah is also Scottish, by the way. Will no doubt be picking up all those South African-isms that you find amusing.

      I’m also hoping that Hannah stays in touch and becomes a regular on my blog.

  11. Hannah
    June 28, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    Oh the responses so far are wonderful! Lisa you have a really great clan of followers – I can’t believe how many people have read the blog already. Yes Dingetjie didn’t quite fit the fruit and nut family by name, but by nature she really was a nutty dog! She was the first addition to the family so we did’nt have a theme at that point. We later got a tiny squirrel we named Currant – so feeding time involved making 36litres for a baby rhino and 2mls for a baby squirrel!!

    Anyway thank you again to Lisa for writing this story – you really do make it sound much more romantic than it was ;o) I am just so thrilled you have the time and passion to write these wonderful stories and re-unite missing rhinos to their families.

    I look forward to sharing more experiences with you soon.

    • June 29, 2012 at 8:59 am #

      Hi Hannah,

      Your post was in fact very popular – a lot of people follow my blog, but don’t always leave comments.

      Interesting you choosing a “naming theme”. 🙂

      I’m wondering what else Darius is going to bring home for you to foster . . .

      Thank you for sharing your story with me!

  12. Hannah
    July 1, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    Hi Lisa,
    So many of my friends and family have read the blog and are thrilled to hear about Peanut and her new partner. It is great to be in contact with Cecile who has answered my million and one questions about the rhinos…

    Yes Darius is always bringing back interesting things to look after, the latest was an elephant shrew who had fallen in the swimming pool and needed warming up and drying out. Within hours he was ready to go again – so no time for a naming ceremony!

    Thank you to everyone for the great comments it is so nice to read through. I will be in touch!

  13. Madoqua
    November 27, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    Hooray for fantastic blogging authors, the wonderful digital era and the internet. What an awesome story! And how wonderful to bring all these lives and loves together again!

    There is definitely something going for having unusual names for animals! If Peanut had been called something generic, Hannah may never have found her again 😦
    Hannah, you had best think carefully about your naming ceremonies and chose names that are strikingly unique! Just in case 🙂

    • November 28, 2012 at 7:45 am #

      Yes, I agree. It was also luck that the new owners knew the name it had been given. The way that Hannah found my blog was to search on the words “rhino” and “peanut”. We started corresponding and soon realized that it must be the same animal.

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