How Time Flies!

Wow, it’s amazing to realize a year has passed since our rhino boys Jeezan and Jiyu joined us here at the San Diego Zoo! They were introduced to each other and continue to be good friends. However, Jeezan has shown himself to be the dominant male out of the two. We make a point of having two trainers when working them side by side so neither gets jealous that the other is getting attention.

Photo credit: Mary Ellen Jordan

Since their arrival, we have been working on several training goals with them. One was getting them comfortable around the keepers and guests so they could join our ambassador program and participate in private tours and our brand new Animals in Action program. It’s been going great, although at this time, Jiyu is still a bit too short to reach over the presentation wall, so Jeezan is our primary rhino for the Animals in Action experience.

We are also working on getting them comfortable in the transfer hallway. This is an area the boys walk through daily to come in and out of the barn. It is designed to give us access to most of the rhino’s body with a protective barrier between us. We utilize the hallway for medical procedures such as exams and blood draws, so getting them comfortable in this location in very important. Both Jeezan and Jiyu are coming along great and stop in this area for training. Since Jiyu is still so small, he can actually turn around in this space!

Both rhinos are very discerning when it comes to food. They absolutely let us know which food items do not make the cut when it comes to training reinforcements! Luckily, the rhino boys enjoy having us rub their necks and bellies and happily welcome that as a reinforcement during training.

Over this last year they have continued to grow in size, gaining several hundred pounds. With Jiyu weighing just over 1,900 pounds and Jeezan at 2,700 pounds, both are still only half the size they will be when full grown. Stop by their home in Urban Jungle and say hello, or join one of our programs and meet them up close and in person!

Victoria Girdler is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous story, A Blossoming Rhino ‘Bromance’.