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Code Red At Omaha Zoo: A Rhino Was On The Loose


Workers at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium got a little excitement recently when a rhinoceros slipped out of its pen.

DAN CASSIDY: Jontu is his name. He's a 13-year-old male Indian one-horn rhino.


Dan Cassidy, the zoo's vice president, says the rhino was grazing outside his enclosure - you know, chilling, eating the lush grass - when one of the bird keepers discovered him.

CASSIDY: And he made a code red call, which is our lingo for a dangerous animal escape.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, Jontu wasn't near lots of people, but there were hundreds of visitors that had to shelter in place. Cassidy and his team, though, went to work.

CASSIDY: A lot of people from the zoo, including the vets and keepers and even some maintenance staff, converged on that site, trying to figure out how to get him back in where he belonged.

KING: Cassidy says everyone stayed calm because, believe it or not, they do train for a rhino-on-the-loose scenario.

CASSIDY: Definitely a dangerous animal, definitely formidable. There's a lot of things to consider, so our first choice is always safest to just try to walk them back in. But with some of our other animals, you know, you can use people to get around them and shrink the gap to get them where you want them to go. But in this case, we had to use pickup trucks.

KING: They also used treats, apples and leafy greens, to get the big guy back.

MARTÍNEZ: That would get me back.

KING: (Laughter).

MARTÍNEZ: Cassidy says Jontu seems to have pushed through a gate that wasn't properly shut. Thanks to calm heads, Jontu returned to his enclosure. No animals or humans were hurt.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAKEY INSPIRED'S "MOVING ON") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.