Keeper Jack's big rhino adventure

Posted: 10th January, 2017

All of our zoo keepers are passionate about the animals they look after, and this doesn't change when clocking off at the end of the day - with many of them exploring various zoos or taking part in courses on their 'days off'.

Our rhino keeper Jack has taken it up a notch by travelling all the way to Indonesia recently, to learn more about the conservation work of the Javan and Sumatran rhinos.

Jack already looks after some of the largest residents on our zoo, the lovely Manyara and Nkosi, our critically endangered eastern black rhino. But his recent adventure made for a very different experience to his usual day-to-day routine. He travelled to Singapore and two Indonesian islands Java and Sumatra with keepers from the Aspinall Foundation in a bid to learn as much as they could about the Asian rhinos and hopefully catch a glimpse of one in the wild.

Jack joined our team in 2014 after finishing an animal management degree at Sparsholt College and has already been lucky enough to visit other zoos across the world including Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Australia. He just can't get enough and hopes to continue learning as much as he can about these fascinating animals! 

Jack said;

"I have a great relationship with the rhino keepers at the Aspinall Foundation and they were going to the International Elephant and Rhino Conservation and Research Symposium hosted by Singapore Zoo so I decided to join them and planned to visit a few national parks whilst I was there."

Jack continued:

"There is said to be only 63 Javan rhinos left in the wild and rangers have identified all of them using camera traps and now they all have names. We patrolled the parks and spent time tracking the wild animals, looking at their footprints, mud wallows and trails of poo. We were on a canoe travelling down a river and actually heard a rhino crashing through the forest."

There are also only 100 Sumatran rhinos left in the wild. Their population is fragmented which means they can't reach others to breed. However Jack was fortunate enough to meet four of seven Sumatran rhinos when visiting a semi-wild reserve in the Way Kambas National Park, including a small calf, Delilah, who was just six months old - awww! This was especially exciting for Jack as we're expecting a breeding female to join Manyara and Nkosi soon and hope to hear the pitter-patter of tiny rhino feet one day in the future!

Following his trip, Jack enthused:

"The whole experience was just amazing, I've learned so much and will be able to feed back to the other keepers and visitors at Folly Farm about the pressure the world's rhinos are facing. I'm so passionate about their conservation - I want to learn as much as possible!"

And what does he think about coming back to work after such an amazing adventure? 

"When you get to work with such amazing animals it doesn't feel like a job at all. The best part is seeing the animals content and happy."

Well done Jack - we're proud of you!  

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