Fallon Hickman, Ozarks News Journal
SPRINGFIELD, MO – Springfield’s Dickerson Park Zoo is taking a closer look at zoo safety after a recent zookeeper’s death. One of the zoo’s elephants crushed the keeper resulting in his death.
The zookeepers walked me through the steps and precautions they take when working with the animals. Marketing director Melinda Arnold says there are many animals to take extra precaution around such as the big cats and elephants.
“The zoo uses a special lock system in all of their confinements and only one keeper is allowed a key to eliminate any confusion when it comes to how many people are working in that area,” said Arnold. The zoo also posts signs on the doors to let the zoo staff and other keepers know that they are working in that area. In addition, staff members put bars on the windows to eliminate big cats from escaping if they get out of their indoor containment.
Dickerson zookeepers all told me that they felt very safe. “We take special precaution around certain animals. Our safety procedures are followed as best as they can be,” explained Arnold.
Special procedures are used when it comes to working with the spider monkeys at the zoo as well. The keepers protect their hands with gloves, in addition to feeding the animals with a stick to prevent them from getting bitten.
Investigations concluded that the Springfield Zoo was following all of the correct safety precautions at the time of the zookeeper’s death.