A right royal encounter at Chester Zoo

(A version of this article originally appeared in The Horn, Autumn 2012. Author: Cathy Dean, Director)

Just before Prince William waved off the Port Lympne rhinos, Semu Pallangyo, the Rhino Sanctuary Manager at Mkomazi, met Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen was visiting Chester Zoo as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Dignitaries were invited, bins removed from sight, and key field staff from programmes supported by the Zoo brought over to the UK. Among these was Semu, who has worked for years in the Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary, accompanied by programme manager Tony Fitzjohn. The photograph says it all really.

The Rhino Sanctuary Manager, Semu meets the Queen

We asked Lucy Fitzjohn what Semu, and his colleagues back home, made of his encounter. Semu was absolutely overwhelmed and lost for words about the whole trip. He has done things that most people living in England have never done. So he doesn't really know how to describe it apart from saying how special it was. He is now back at work dealing with the tsetse flags for the incoming rhino. All creatures great and small. The other guys in camp said 'Aisee' which roughly translates as 'I say'. They were pretty amazed too! I think the Queen is a well-known figure in their peripheral lives and they were amazed that someone from their village had met her. The British High Commissioner wants to put the photo up on the BHC website for Tanzania!”

 Credits: Chester Zoo