Phoenix Zoo exhibits inspected daily for safety

Posted at 6:13 PM, May 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-30 23:52:18-04

After a 4-year-old boy got into a gorilla enclosure at a Cincinnati Zoo Saturday, people are talking about safety.

The 400-pound gorilla took hold of the boy, and zoo staff shot and killed the gorilla to free the boy who had non-life threatening injuries. 

At the Phoenix Zoo, Denise Wagner, a senior primate keeper, says different exhibits require different kinds of safety barriers. 

“It’s about safety for the animals, it’s about safety for the public, and it’s about my safety as well," Wagner said. 

The cell phone video of the gorilla dragging the boy has been viewed by many online.

“It's scary because they [kids] can fall,” said parent Jennifer Wardell who visited the Phoenix Zoo Monday. 

“It’s very horrible. I think the parents really need to watch their kids and watch what their surroundings are," parent David Wardell said. 

Wagner says the types of safety barriers around the animals depends on the nature of the animals. 

“They’re not pets, they’re not domesticated, and they’re not tamed. These are still wild animals, and we respect that," Wagner said. 

At the orangutan exhibit, the primates are behind a glass in some areas. In the more open areas, the orangutans are behind a steel mesh fence; several feel back, there's a secondary rope fence at the overlook. 

“They [orangutans] can reach out actually pretty far. We don’t want them to contact the public," Wagner said. 

Zoo staff say, being in the animals’ territory, visitors also need to respect the barriers for their own safety.

“I think it’s the parents’ responsibility. They need to be able to watch their kids and hold on to them," Jennifer Wardell said. 

Staff at the Phoenix Zoo inspect the perimeters of the exhibits daily for safety, Wagner said.