Step-by-step: Disney rhino gets fitted with fitness tracker

Category : Science/Environment

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. join the ranks / dʒɔɪn ðə ræŋks / (idiom) – to become a member of a group or an organization

    Dianne has recently joined the ranks of the top business owners in the country.

  2. enthusiast / ɛnˈθu ziˌæst / (n.) – a person who is very much interested in a particular subject or activity

    Art enthusiasts don’t easily fall for fake copies.

  3. tracking device / ˈtræk ɪŋ dɪˈvaɪs / (n.) – an electronic device that’s used to monitor the location of a person, animal, vehicle, etc.

    The police placed a tracking device on the getaway car of the robbers.

  4. accustomed to (something) / əˈkʌs təmd tu / (adj.) – familiar with something and treating it as normal or usual

    I’ve grown accustomed to hearing my roommate sing and hum in the dorm.

  5. reserve / rɪˈzɜrv / (n.) – a protected area for wild animals and plants

    Endangered animals are often kept in nature reserves to protect them from hunters.


Read the text below.

Someone new is joining the ranks of fitness enthusiasts who monitor the number of steps they take each day with Fitbits and other fitness tracking devices. Only Helen isn’t human: She’s a 30-year-old white rhino at Walt Disney World.

Helen went out onto the savanna at the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction at Animal Kingdom on Monday wearing a fitness device all day.

The purpose is to gather data on the number of steps she takes each day, whether she is walking, running or napping, and which part of the man-made savanna she favors the most. The device, about a foot (0.3 meters) in diameter, has an accelerometer and a GPS tracker, and it’s fitted around her ankle.

The data it produces will be shared with more than two dozen other institutions participating in a large research project studying the best ways to care for rhinos at facilities, said Scott Terrell, a veterinarian who is director of Animal & Science Operations, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.

“By doing this research and using this technology, we can really focus on the physical fitness of the rhinos as a component of their health and well-being,” Terrell said.

The tracker consists of a belt with a small pouch with electronics attached to it. Her caretakers had been trying to get Helen accustomed to the device by having her wear it for a limited amount of time and then extending that time.

If Helen continues to appear comfortable wearing the device, which will be taken off at night, eventually two-thirds of the nine white rhinos at Animal Kingdom will be wearing the devices out on the savanna.

Around 27,000 rhinos remain in the wild, primarily at national parks and reserves. Three species — black, Javan, and Sumatran — are critically endangered due to poaching, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Scientists sometimes put tracking devices and small cameras on animals in the wild to monitor them and their environment. Do you agree with this practice? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • If you could track and study any animal, which one would you choose? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Kilimanjaro Safaris is an attraction at the Animal Kingdom in Disney World that resembles the savanna in Africa. On the other hand, East Africa also has the most popular safari destinations: Kenya and Tanzania. Which would you rather visit, a theme park or a real savanna? Why? Discuss.
  • Do you think creating amusement parks that also have zoos is a good idea? Why or why not? Discuss.
Category : Science/Environment