Zoos examining safety protocol after Cincinnati incident


AKRON, Ohio (WKBN) – Zoos are examining their safety protocols after several widely-publicized incidences which brought the safety of zoo enclosures into question.

In Chile, two lions were killed after a naked man jumped into the enclosure and taunted the animals in a reported suicide attempt. More recently, a 4-year-old boy is expected to recover after crawling into a gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo. The gorilla was later killed in an effort to save the boy’s life.

The Rueggs are regulars at the Akron Zoo, but before Monday’s visit, Melissa Ruegg said she talked to her kids about the gorilla attack at the Cincinnati Zoo.

“Just explaining to them that if you go to the zoo and you see something, you should not be crawling under any place,” she said. “You stay behind with your parents. Stay looking. You can look at the animals from afar, but don’t go to any type of enclosure where you can get trapped.”

The Akron Zoo said when you’re dealing with wild animals, safety is a big concern. The zoo trains its workers for a variety of circumstances and says it plans to look at what happened in Cincinnati to see if it can make any improvements to its safety plan.

From grizzly bears to penguins and snow leopards, the Akron Zoo has more than 700 animals. It is required to have safety measures in place, including glass windows to prevent people from getting into the enclosures and animals from getting out.

The zoo also has an emergency response team of seven people. The team has never been called into action for a guest and animal incident, but team members complete routine drills and training, according to David Barnhardt, spokesman for the Akron Zoo.

“Those people are well trained,” he said. “We drill those situations and have to react very quickly in a situation like that.”

Barnhardt added that every enclosure built at the Akron Zoo is constructed with the safety of guests and animals in mind.

“Our exhibits are looked at daily by the keepers, regularly by our facilities and staff,” he said.

Barnhardt said while the decision by the staff at the Cincinnati Zoo to shoot the gorilla was controversial, he said they made the right, albeit tough decision.

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