Safety measures could be modified at Waco zoo following incident in Ohio

Safety measures could be modified at Waco zoo following incident in Ohio
Posted at 6:55 PM, Jun 01, 2016
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:30:12-04

A local zoo will review its safety measures after an incident involving a boy who entered a Cincinnati’s gorilla enclosure last weekend.

The boy was dragged across a moat by the 400-pound gorilla who officials said was later killed in an effort to protect the child.  

Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, which staff said passed its annual U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection in December and regained its accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in March, plans to reevaluate its safety measures and make changes if necessary.

The zoo currently has barriers in its exhibits that staff said meet and even exceed federal standards. In the  past the zoo has moved some of its barriers in response to incidents at other zoos.

"We did that in our lion, our elephant yard, our bison yard after an incident in Pittsburgh a couple years ago. We looked at all of our barriers and we thought, they could be pulled back just a little bit. They people will still see fine but they will still be safer and that's what our goal is," Curator of Programs and Exhibits at Cameron Park Zoo Terri Cox said.

Zoo keepers every day check the barriers in the exhibits every day from an animal containment perspective and a public safety perspective, according to Cox.

Emergency response procedures are checked during the AZA accreditation process, which Cox said Cameron Park Zoo received after an inspection conducted every five years. The zoo has an emergency response team that trains for incidents, including weather events, animal escapes and human injuries.

"All zoos take that training very seriously. Each time that an incident may occur, we go back and look at our safety protocols, at all of our emergency response drills. How we can do things better and then we look at the individual exhibits and make sure we are meeting all standards and exceeding all standards,” said Cox.

The zoo staff also does public rounds around the zoo every day to make sure that everything is running smoothly. They advise the public to also help make their visit safer and enjoyable by following the rules, such as staying on public pathways and never crossing barriers.

"In any facility whether is a zoo or a shopping mall, there is the potential for someone to get hurt. I think it's a joint effort from the zoo and the public to watch and make sure we are doing things as safely as possible. We are as proactive as we can be in creating habitats that keep our animals safe but also allow the public a way to see them an enjoy them in a safe manner."

Fifteen years ago, a woman got into an elephant enclosure after crossing three barriers. Zoo keepers were notified and were able to get the woman out safely. She only sustained minor injuries after the incident occurred.

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