Excitement But No Danger When Rhino Gets Out At Henry Doorly Zoo


     Jontu the Indian rhinoceros escaped from his enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha Tuesday afternoon, but officials say there was no threat to visitors during the roughly 50 minutes he was outside. 

      Zoo vice president of animal management Dan Cassidy says Jontu was found in front of the rhino enclosure on a path behind the aviary around 1:00, triggering emergency protocols that closed all zoo entries and moved visitors and staff to secure locations.

      Cassiday says while that was happening, zookeepers and officials used motor vehicles, including the zoo’s tram, to corral Jontu and keep him from wandering further from the Asian Highlands rhino exhibit. Zookeepers had tranquilizers on hand, just in case he became aggressive or tried to move out.

      Staff members eventually used apples and other tactics to lure him back into the enclosure without incident. Cassidy says “Nobody got hurt, and no animals got hurt, so everything went well.”

       Cassidy says Jontu got out because a gate “wasn’t locked quite right, and he just nosed the door open to let himself out.” 

      He also says improvements will be made to prevent a repeat, including installing a secondary gate and reinforcing the area where Jontu was found with fencing “in the unlikely event this were to happen again.”