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Hogle Zoo's white rhino, 'Princess' crowned with custom-made fly mask for eye irritations

SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah)- You might have a lot more in common with a rhino than you would think.

Each Spring, like clock-work, the pollen picks up, the flies come out, and allergies ensue. 

Like many of us, Hogle Zoo's white rhino, Princess, suffers from seasonal allergies.

Melissa Farr is the Lead Keeper of Africa at the zoo. She says up until about five years ago they were able

to use medications to control Princess' allergies. Farr says they would wipe her eyes down and do their best to keep the flies away, but her allergies just seemed to be getting worse.

"I grew up around horses and I know that there are fly masks that are made for horses, so I thought 'Why can't we custom build Princess her very own fly mask," Farr said.

The zoo scratched its head trying to figure out where to begin, this type of rhino mask has only been tackled once before in Florida. "We called local business A.A. Callister and just asked if they know anyone who makes fly masks, locally," Farr said. "Lucky for us, they were intrigued enough about the proposition that rather than tell us 'no, sorry' they said - 'well let us think about that!"

A.A. Callister worked with Horseware Ireland and many, many phone calls later Princess' custom mask was delivered.

The process of 'desensitization' took almost a year, Farr said.

Once Princess was used to wearing the mask, they put her outside in the small holding yard to let her get used to shadows and get her footing.

Farr says Princess has been comfortable wearing the fly mask and is doing great and her step-brother George doesn't seem bothered by his sister's new accessory.


For more information on Hogle Zoo visit hoglezoo.org.

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