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How Reid Park Zoo keeps you safe from animals

Posted at 6:54 PM, Jun 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-01 21:54:20-04

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The Reid Park Zoo has many measures in place to prevent dangerous incidents like what happened at the Cincinnati Zoo where a 3-year-old boy got into the gorilla exhibit, resulting in a gorilla being shot and killed. 

Reid Park Zoo Administrator Jason Jacobs said the staff has safety meetings quarterly where they do drills about what to do if someone got into an exhibit or if an animal got out. 

There are no gorillas at Reid Park Zoo and other dangerous animals including tigers, bears and lions, are in the highest enclosures.

Less dangerous animals have lower barriers, but Jacobs points out that any animal can kick, bite or step on you. Therefore, he stressed the importance of staying behind the fences and barriers that are around every enclosure. 

He also said no parents should ever put their kids up on the barriers to see over, even if they're holding them.

"You know, you wouldn't do that if you were at a skyscraper on the top floor," said Jacobs. "You wouldn't lean your kid over the side to get a cool photo. You shouldn't do that at the zoo either."

Many people have been speaking out against the Cincinnati Zoo's decision to use lethal force against the gorilla. However, if a similar incident happened at Reid Park Zoo, Jacobs said they do have armed first responders that may have to make that difficult choice.

"In the case of a dangerous animal emergency, we do have trained first responders on grounds that have fire arms that could use deadly force if necessary. That's a worst case scenario," said Jacobs.

He added that while he does not know all of the details of what happened that day at the Cincinnati Zoo, he believes they made the decision to save the child's life. 

"I can tell you that if I was forced to make that decision, I think the zoo made the right decision," said Jacobs.