FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – An unfortunate and scary situation is how visitors to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo described what happened in Cincinnati over the weekend. A rare breed of gorilla was shot and killed after a four-year-old boy fell into the animal’s enclosure.
“Obviously I feel bad for the child and I feel bad for the gorilla that was killed,” Christopher Mckenna said.
“It definitely did not need to die. Especially as an endangered species,” added Tessa Egolf.
“I thought it was very sad. Sad but a necessity to take him down just because of the child and the child has a life,” Tena Flanary said.
The director of the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo says he simply can’t imagine what this would be like.
“You have animal welfare and animal health. You have human safety. And Cincinnati had really really tough situation,” Jim Anderson said.
But they have a protocol and they’re reminded of their training when any emergency situation happens. If a visitor were too be close to a potentially dangerous animal, an emergency response team would react.
“We have a shooting team that is trained by the Fort Wayne Police Department SWAT team. We also have a relationship with the FWPD and the SWAT team that they would automatically be called,” Anderson said.
Although they hope to never have to put their training to use, with 40 acres of exhibits, they’re always prepared just in case.
A responsibility of safety for employees, visitors and parents.
“We do the best job we can, we attract 600 thousand guests a year and they do have a part in that,” Anderson said.
“You know, kids dart, things are difficult. It’s just terrible that the gorilla had to lose his life,” Mckenna said.
“We’re actually glad and very thankful to have a zoo here and I think we’re at a safe place,” Flanary said.
“Everybody is always nice, happy. It’s clean never and you never have to worry about anything really,” Egolf said.
The zoo has extended hours, now they’re open every evening until seven o’clock.
So even more guests are expected, but the staff visitors say they’re confident they’ll have a fun and safe visit.