Crate acclimation can require two to six weeks, however some institutions have reported that they have successfully crate-trained their rhinos in seven days or less. Training should be completed by a method of approximation.

The first step is to introduce the crate into an interactive part of the animal’s environment, for example the door way, allowing the animals to go in and out and get used to it. Place the rhino’s food in the crate to encourage this behaviour. Gradually introduce the front metal bars of the crate, and move the rhino’s food gradually closer and closer to these, getting the animal used to them.

Photo of a successfully trained young Black rhino Asani, at Chester Zoo.

Successfully trained young Black rhino Asani, at Chester Zoo.

If the animal acclimates to the point of completely entering the crate and will allow the door to be shut, the door should be left closed for short acclimation periods under close observation, however this can take a long period of time (longer than six weeks) so it is recommended just to close the door shut on the actual day of transport. If the rhino does not completely acclimate to entering the crate, partial immobilisation (standing restraint) may need to be utilised for shipping. In situations in which crate training is not possible, immobilisation should be incorporated. Forced crating without training or immobilisation is strongly discouraged (Fouraker and Wagener, 1996).

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