Duchess of Cambridge delights in feeding baby animals at sanctuary

After a morning in their trusted Jeep trying to spot wildlife, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, neé Kate Middleton, had the chance to get some face-to-face time with a group of baby elephants and rhinos while visiting the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation in Assam, India.

William and Kate, who had left their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte at home in Norfolk, showed off their nurturing sides as they took part in a feeding session.

The couple played mother and father to the smallest animals in the group, two elephants and one rhino – and made sure that they drank every drop of milk. Every few hours the animals are fed the special formula with added coconut milk as a supplement.

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Kate fed baby elephants and rhinos at the rehabilitation centre.

Kate, who had changed into a pink printed Topshop dress, took a particular shining to little Dunga, the smallest and newest resident at the rehabilitation centre. She rubbed the rhino's neck as he tipped back his head to feed him.

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The centre, which is located in the Kaziranga National Park, takes in wild animals that have been injured, displaced or orphaned and provides them with emergency care.

The animals are fed the special milk formula every few hours.

Vivek Menon, CEO of the Wildlife Trust of India which established the centre with a number other bodies, said: "They were absolutely thrilled and loved being with the animals. The Duke said if he could he would have spent the whole day there."

Kate and William, who is a keen conservationist and president of United for Wildlife, then visited the Mark Shand Foundation for their next engagement. Mark Shand is the late brother of the Duchess of Cornwall, who sadly passed away in 2014.

Kate took a particular shine to baby rhino Dunga.

"The first thing they said after we introduced ourselves was how sorry they were about Mark," said Ruth Powys, CEO of the Elephant Family, which was set up in memory of the conservationist and travel writer.

"William said how Mark always talked about Asia. It means a huge amount that they are here today putting the spotlight on what we are doing."

The couple visited a local village in the Kaziranga National Park.

The royals were then invited to put the finishing touches to a painted elephant model – one of the 300 statues that will be placed around India as part of a fundraising campaign, Elephant Parade India.

William was the first to pick up a brush and painted a blue circle around a red diamond shape on the elephant's trunk. Creative Kate, who is a talented photographer and studied history of art at university, followed suit, painting a pretty flower.

William and Kate put the finishing touches to a painted elephant model.

"Kate did a lovely flower. She seemed to thoroughly enjoy painting the elephant," said Delhi-based painter Bulbul Sharma, 62. "She took inspiration from my flowers and did them in her own colours."

Before leaving the foundation, William and Kate were told they would be receiving two elephants painted by the children as gifts for Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

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