Staff at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo enticed the escaped Indian male rhino back into his enclosure with treats; no humans or animals were harmed during the incident

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Indian rhino
Indian rhino
| Credit: Getty

On Tuesday, a rhino escaped from Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Nebraska, causing officials to lockdown the zoo until the animal returned to his enclosure.

The zoo first noted that Jontu, a 5,000-pound Indian rhino, was absent from his barn enclosure around 1 p.m. In response, zoo officials asked visitors to shelter in place, Dan Cassidy, the zoo's vice president of animal management, said in a press conference.

"This is the kind of thing we practice for all the time although of course, we hope it never happens," Cassidy told reporters, explaining that they've done escape drills with smaller animals.

Zookeepers found the 13 ½-year-old rhino about 35 feet away from his enclosure "eating a bunch of grass, and he didn't want to leave," the zoo official said.

"He was in a behind-the-scenes area so at no time was anybody from the public in danger," Cassidy added. "Nobody got hurt, no animals got hurt. Everything went well."

According to Cassidy, to avoid using a tranquilizer, zoo officials used pickup trucks to guide Jontu away from the grass while his keepers used apples and other treats to lure him back into the barn.  The entire effort took about 50 minutes.

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Cassidy explained that the rhino escaped through a gate to his enclosure that wasn't locked properly. The zoo plans to install a second gate as a precautionary measure and is thinking about fencing in the behind-the-scenes area.

"I've seen it happen at other zoos. I was like 'Man, what kind of security do they have there that a rhino gets out?" Cassidy said while chuckling. "And now I know it can happen here too."