Just a week after Cincinnati’s Harambe the gorilla death, when a 3-year old child crawled through the fence and went into the gorilla enclosure, the Hogle Zoo leopard in Salt Lake City, Utah escaped her containment.
At approximately 9:30 a.m. local time, Zeta, the 4-year-old Amur Leopard escaped from the Asian Highlands exhibit, yet remained in the exhibit area. She was immediately tranquilized and then safely captured without any guests being in harm’s way. Good4Utah reported that unaware zoo guests were moved to nearby buildings to keep them safe. Jane Saunders, one zoo guest interviewed, had no idea of the serious situation at the zoo.
“They pushed us back, and pushed down the gates, and they didn’t tell us at first was going on so we were all kind of wondering. Then we heard rumors that there was an animal loose.”
Just a week ago, all eyes were on the tragedy at the Cincinnati Zoo where Harambe the gorilla was killed after a child crawled through the barrier and fell into the enclosure. Hogle Zoo’s community relations coordinator Erica Hansen was interviewed by KSL about doing what they can to make sure that zoo visitors are safe, but still enjoy the open air zoo experience.
“People want to see these animals in the open, there’s nothing quite like gazing at a silverback gorilla without a barrier, and fingerprinted glass and mesh can sometimes ruin a zoo experience. We do everything we can not only to design the exhibits safely but to maintain them, and to do everything we can to keep people out and animals in. However, we need parents to (help) us.”
Hogle Zoo is well-equipped with a 14-person emergency response team that works throughout the zoo. These zoo employees are specifically trained and equipped to quickly handle any such potentially dangerous encounters as Zeya the Amur Leopard’s escape. Today was a good demonstration on how trained and prepared the Hogle Zoo staff was. No one at the zoo was harmed when Zeya escaped, and the rare animal was saved.
Cincinnati Zoo Update
Today, Gorilla World was opened at the Cincinnati Zoo for the first time in the week since Isaiah Dickerson fell into the gorilla enclave and Harambe the gorilla was shot and killed. Already, children have nearly successfully tried to scale the rope in the new fencing in order to jump into the Gorilla enclosure!
Earlier in the day, the new “bigger and better” childproof barrier and three surveillance cameras were unveiled. The Mirror spoke to several families that checked out the new barrier and they were not terribly impressed with the new rope fence, with one father, who is a member of the zoo asking “Why on earth would you use a rope fence? Kids can use it as a ladder.”
When the new barrier was unveiled in the morning, Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard seemed confident that the new zoo barrier was going to solve all problems.
“Our exhibit goes above and beyond standard safety requirements, but in light of what happened, we have modified the outer public barrier to make entry even more difficult.”
In addition, Maynard pointed out that maintaining accreditation standards was at the top of their list.
“It takes hard work and a sustained commitment to excellence to meet the Association of Zoos and Aquariums accreditation standards. Our exhibit goes above and beyond standard safety requirements, but in light of what happened, we have modified the outer public barrier to make entry even more difficult.”
Hopefully, the Cincinnati Zoo looks at the video of the young children easily climbing the new enclosure and further kid-tests this new design before another child or protected animal is endangered by this negligence.
Do you think the Cincinnati Zoo should have waited to open up the Gorilla World exhibit? Do you think the new improvements will keep kids safe from entering the gorilla exhibit?
[Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images]