Zoos typically move animals for breeding, conservation or education. The size, species and temperament affects how they're transported. The move can range from small birds and reptiles taking a commercial flight to someone like Danhauer trucking a rhino across the country in a climate controlled trailer. Some small fish even travel overnight via priority mail.
The Denver Zoo, which works with Danhauer, does rely on air transportation for some moves, like bringing Billy, an Asian elephant, from Europe on a Lufthansa cargo plane in 2013. But Dale Leeds, the curator of Toyota Elephant Passage, likes the fact that traveling by road means constant supervision of the animal.
In 2013, the Denver Zoo moved 317 animals in and 368 out. And planning is key -- whether it's coordinating with other institutions, quarantines or training the animals to prepare for the trip.
"It takes ten times longer to do the planning than it takes to do the move," Leeds said. "We're trying to make it risk-free."
Danhauer's trips typically take less than 24 hours, but he takes another driver when he has to travel overnight. He's very involved with loading and unloading and caring for the animal during the move. The zoos typically own the crates and Danhauer provides one of his two trailers.
He generally charges by distance and animal type. It could cost as little as $500 to move an antelope somewhere nearby or $12,000 to move an elephant hundreds of miles. Extremely large animals (think elephants and rhinos) require him to rent a semi-truck to pull the load.
The first five years of business were somewhat lean. As Danhauer's reputation grew, so did his profits. But this isn't the kind of business that can grow exponentially, he noted, because the number of zoos in the country is somewhat finite. And zoos located in cities often don't have room to grow.
All of this animal movement reflects the changing mission of zoos, said Christina Castellano, general curator at Utah's Hogle Zoo.
"Back in the old days, zoos were very much about showcasing animals that would be important for guests to see," she said. Now that has evolved.
"Every space we have in a zoo is critical to our participation as a conservation organization," Castellano said. "A lot of these shippers are transferring animals between institutions because of breeding programs -- for us, having sustainable populations in zoos is very important."