A zoo is ideally a controlled environment where families can bring children to witness living marvels of the world. Rare and endangered species can be found in zoos all over the planet. These places take great strides to show these animals in as natural a state as possible. At the same time, zoos take many precautions in hopes of preventing an animal attack. The legal consequences for an animal attack cost people their jobs, and force the zoo to pay considerable benefits to the victims and their families.
As a result, zoos invest heavily in the animal enclosures. Safety signs are required on retaining walls and fences, which need to be and specific heights to prevent escape. It’s part of an ongoing shift in zoos worldwide. The traditional idea of animals in small cages on display has given way to larger spaces. Ironically, this has made the possibility of a zoo animal attack even greater. Escape is always a possibility. The other possibility is a person entering the cage.
For a man in China, entering a tiger enclosure at the Ningbo Youngor Zoo was the last mistake he would make. Sneaking into the zoo on Sunday, the man identified only as Zhang, was confronted by multiple tigers.
Zoo authorities responded quickly, trying to scare off the tigers with firecrackers. However, one remained with Zhang, with viral video showing the tiger gnawing on his body. Eventually, local police officers shot and killed the tiger in hopes of saving his life. He would eventually succumb to his injuries after the severe mauling.
On social media, Zhang was admonished for his actions for contributing to the animal attack, and his own eventual death. The zoo authorities claim that the man climbed over a ten foot retaining wall, and bypassed retaining wire obstacles. Signs that warned of the danger went unheeded.
The danger of an animal attack in zoos around the world
Zhang’s death, and that of the tiger, is one recent animal attack to be in the news.
On February first of this year, a zebra in another Chinese zoo attacked a handler, dragging him for a distance. The victim’s overall condition is not known, but he did survive the encounter.
More famously, in May of 2016, a small child worked his way into an enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. In this enclosure was Harambe, a 17-year-old western lowland gorilla. Harambe grabbed the child, and dragged him deeper into the enclosure. Zoo staff, fearing for the boy’s life, shot and killed Harambe.
Land animals are not the only dangers to zoo workers and visitors. In 2010, a veteran Orlando SeaWorld trainer was drowned by a killer whale. Ominously, this same whale was a known danger, having killed twice before.
While an animal attack of this lethal nature is rare, one must wonder how far zoos must go to prevent them. Are current safety measure not enough? Is there any reasonable way for zoo staff to completely prevent determined people from sneaking into a large enclosure? The risks aren’t limited to tourists; zoo keepers must deal with these animals on a regular basis. In some cases, the causes of these attacks aren’t entirely known. Abuse by trainers could have contributed to the animal’s aggressive state, however this is also not a consistent factor.
The reality is, many animals held in zoos are dangerous creatures. Visitors respect and admire them from behind safe walls and glass. But as Zhang unfortunately learned, you can take a tiger out of its jungle, but that doesn’t make it anything less than a tiger.