APOPO’s Ambassadors to America

Three HeroRATs move to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

APOPO is thrilled to introduce three very important ambassadors that have traveled all the way from Tanzania to the United States. This is the first time that APOPO has sent HeroRATs to America. More specifically - to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, which will be the first zoo to demonstrate to the American public how HeroRATs save lives through mock landmine detection training demonstrations.

HeroRATs Celine, Chiku and Mona Lisa took three flights to get to their new home at Tacoma, Washington in May. Before leaving they received all their vaccinations, and the long journey from Africa to America was broken up into shorter segments with regular checks along the way. They travelled thousands of miles away from home and took it all in stride. Yet again, the HeroRATs have shown us how resilient they are as a species.

After getting ample time to rest up in quarantine under close monitoring from Zoo veterinarians, the rats were introduced to their new homes and their zoo caretakers. Once they were comfortable with the team and happy in their environment, they were gradually introduced to short training sessions for their mock landmine training demonstration routines and are now ready to show the American public what amazing noses they have! Read more about that here.

APOPO’s very own research technician, Kate Sears-Webb, is at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium now supporting staff during their first landmine demonstrations. Kate kicked off the weekend with a public presentation yesterday in the Education Center.

APOPO and the HeroRATS

Over the last two decades APOPO has been training African giant pouched rats (aka HeroRATs) to detect landmines and tuberculosis. To date over 800 HeroRATs have been born and trained at APOPO’s Operational Headquarters and Training Center in Morogoro, Tanzania. 60 countries around the world are contaminated with landmines and other explosives. Tragically, injuries from landmines are usually very severe, if not fatal and about half of all landmine accidents involve children. APOPO’s HeroRATs are too light to detonate the landmines and are very quick at finding them, making them a perfect “tool” for speeding up detection and clearance.


GO SEE THEM: Celine, Chiku and Mona Lisa will be making their debut July 20-21, demonstrating their
abilities at 2pm each day at a Close Encounter near the picnic pavilion at the Point Defiance Zoo.