How to fly an 1,800-pound Sumatran rhino across the globe

How to fly an1,800-pound Sumatran rhino across the globe

Pygmy goats, pregnant dairy cows and Arabian horses have all lifted off from Rickenbacker International Airport since the Columbus facility received a federal license to ship live animals in 2014. Last fall, however, the airport took on perhaps its biggest four-legged challenge to date-an 1,800-pound Sumatran rhino named Harapan, or Harry for short. Born and bred at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Harry traveled some 10,000 miles from Ohio to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia. "It's very fulfilling to have been a part of Harry's move to Indonesia," says Bryan Schreiber, business development manager of cargo for the Columbus Regional Airport Authority.

Here's how Harry's caretakers pulled off the 53-hour voyage:

Step 1: The Paper Chase

The Cincinnati Zoo worked closely with government officials to complete the necessary export and import paperwork. Also required were numerous medical permits, including fecal and blood samples, as well as bacteria and tuberculosis tests and a 30-day quarantine.

Step 2: Cozy Quarters

In the months leading up to the big trip, Harry ate every day in the nearly 7-foot-tall, 2,500-pound crate. "It just felt like a second home to him," says Terri Roth, director of the Cincinnati Zoo's Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife. "He was very comfortable in there, and we try to do that so the animals are pretty calm when they actually have to get locked in and moved out."

Step 3: All Aboard

On Oct. 30, Harry traveled by truck from Cincinnati to Rickenbacker, where he was loaded onto a Cathay Pacific cargo plane. "The seats are all gone and instead on the bottom are wheels and tracks so they can get big pieces of equipment in," Roth says.

Step 4: The Giant Diaper

While Harry was on the plane, there could be no fluid leaking out of his container. "We really had to think through that with the bedding because there's no way he was going to travel that far without urinating," Roth says. The team put down absorbent bedding and additional absorbent material on the sides of the crate so "it was a like a large diaper."

Step 5: Feed the Beast

A veterinarian and zookeeper fed Harry fresh ficus vegetation throughout the trip. Harry's keepers packed six 35-pound boxes of the browse, which is flown in from San Diego, for the trip. Tranquilizers were on board as well. "If anything were to go wrong or if he were to start really getting agitated, the vet was there to sedate him," Roth says. "But fortunately we didn't have to."

Step 6: On the Road Again

Once Harry finally arrived in Jakarta, his journey wasn't over. "We had to ferry him across the sea to the island of Sumatra," Roth says. "Then from that part in Sumatra, it's still several hours of driving on some pretty rough roads to the sanctuary where we finally arrived." Harry now lives in the sanctuary with his brother, Andalas, as well as the son Andalas sired in 2012, and three possible mates.