Albuquerque’s zoo is taking steps to keep visitors safe from the animals and vice versa.
More than 50 security cameras have been placed around the BioPark. From the gorilla enclosure to the polar bear exhibit, the BioPark staff is watching 24/7.
“It’s all really just focused on mostly safety but it’s a little bit of animal welfare, as well,” ABQ BioPark Director Baird Fleming said.
They’re making sure people keep their distance to avoid incidents like one that happened in 2004 when a man crossed the plant barrier in the jaguar exhibit and had his fingers severed by the animal.
The zoo also wants to makes sure visitors aren’t throwing food, banging on the exhibits or doing something they’re not supposed to.
“We are always concerned about people harassing animals,” Fleming said.
In one infamous case from 2010, a group of kids broke into the zoo at night to take pictures with the giraffes and a sea lion.
In fact, part of the Master Plan funded by the BioPark tax includes projects to upgrade security across the park.
“We are constantly trying to think about how to better improve the exhibitry so as to prevent that kind of egress into the exhibit,” Fleming stated.
Last year, when the BioPark added a second barrier to the tiger exhibit.
It’s a mission zoogoers can get behind.
“I think it’s better because there’s also so many little kids that could get hurt,” Samantha Runyan of Albuquerque stated.
“When I come to the zoo, I’m just thinking about fun and stuff but it’s nice to know that there’s safety here,” her friend Katie Kline added.
The BioPark says cameras will be added to the incoming Penguin Chill exhibit when it finally opens, but not for security. They will be interactive for visitors to get better views of the penguins.
As for progress on the Penguin Chill exhibit, the zoo says there’s still no opening date set, but they’re now aiming for the end of summer.
The last mayor was hoping to have the exhibit done by last February.