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Why did we go to Indonesia with a rhino?

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Posted at 10:01 AM, Nov 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-16 10:01:29-05

If it were a Pixar movie, it would go like this:

From the moment Harapan — known as Harry — the Sumatran rhino was born, he was meant for something big. Doctors have spent 26 years researching him and his family, trying to figure out how to help them reproduce so his species doesn't go extinct.

A crew of doctors and zookeepers traveled 10,000 miles to bring Harapan to a sanctuary where they hope he will successfully breed with a female named Rosa. 

Because if he doesn't, it could be the end of the Sumatran rhino.

We sent journalist Emily Maxwell to Indonesia with Harapan to document the process. She was the only journalist in the world given access to this dramatic, international story.

Emily Maxwell with Harapan

How exactly do you get a rhino from Cincinnati to Indonesia? What are the logistics? Turns out, it's a lot more complicated than we could have fathomed going into it: From leech-proof pants to ISIS to keeping a crated rhino happy for 53 hours, we soon realized the potential pitfalls associated with such a trip.

Which helped us understand even better how dedicated Dr. Terri Roth and a team of Cincinnati Zoo employees really are, especially because they were under no obligation to bring Harapan to Sumatra. 

They love Harry, and they have dedicated their careers to making sure he and his fellow Sumatran rhinos continue to exist. And in order to do that, they knew the next step was to take him on this 10,000-mile journey. 

So will all that training and planning help Harry keep his species from going extinct? 

It just might.

On Wednesday, we will take you on the trip with Emily, starting with a Penske truck at the Cincinnati Zoo and ending in a sunny sanctuary in Sumatra. It's a story you won't want to miss — and one you won't be able to help but share with your friends.