Rhino escapes enclosure at Omaha zoo

An Indian rhinoceros was outside its containment area at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium for about an hour Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 7, 2021.
Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 5:04 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2021 at 5:13 PM EDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT/Gray News) - An escaped rhinoceros sent visitors at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium scurrying for shelter Tuesday afternoon.

According to a release from the zoo, the Indian rhino was found in front of its enclosure on a tram path. The zoo enacted emergency protocols and “guests, students, and staff were immediately taken to a secure location.”

All entry points to the zoo were also closed at that time, WOWT-TV reported.

Dan Cassidy, vice president of animal management at the zoo, said zookeepers and officials used motor vehicles — including the above-mentioned tram — to barricade the rhino from wandering further from the Asian Highlands rhino exhibit. Staff members used food and other tactics to “entice” the animal back into its proper enclosure.

“He was out for about 50 minutes,” said Cassidy. “But he went back in, nobody got hurt and no animals got hurt so everything went well.”

Zookeepers reported no signs of aggression and were on sight with tranquilizers had the rhino escaped beyond the vehicle barricade.

“[The gate] wasn’t locked quite right and he just nosed the door open to let himself out,” said Cassidy. “We’re also going to put a secondary gate there.”

Also, the open area where the rhino was found will be reinforced with fencing so that “In the unlikely event this were to happen again, he would be even more confined.”

Cassidy stated that most of the other animal enclosures have secondary gates.

Within 90 minutes, Henry Doorly officials said the animal had been contained and the zoo had resumed normal business operations.

“Everyone is safe,” a release from the zoo to parents of a student program said.

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