Thursday, March 17, 2005

Dallas Zoo reveals new plans to deal with escaped animals

uh, anybody seen a gorilla around here?

The Dallas Zoo has revised its policy to deal with escaped animals, a year after a gorilla leapt 14-foot wall and went on a rampage before being fatally shot by police.

The four-page policy released Wednesday puts police in charge of containing escaped animals, reversing a plan where Dallas Zoo officials were in command of animal escapes within the zoo´s perimeter.

"The Dallas Police Department _ with public safety being our No. 1 function _ is in charge on or off grounds of an escape," Lt. Todd Thomasson said. "The zoo agreed with us that once we get there, we will take tactical control of the situation."

Jabari, a 13-year-old, 340-pound gorilla, escaped from the zoo March 18, 2004, when he leapt over a habitat wall. During a 40-minute rampage, Jabari snatched up a toddler with his teeth and injured three other people before being shot to death by officers.

Police and the zoo were criticized for communication breakdowns and a confused response to the emergency. A police department commander was faulted for rushing out of the office to an off-duty job instead of going to the scene of the escape.

The revised policy authorizes officers to kill an animal that has escaped the zoo´s perimeter or is a threat to people. According to the policy, officers can kill the animal if it is threatening to escape the zoo´s boundaries, even if there is no immediate danger to humans.

The new policy includes training sessions for police officers and zoo employees on how to deal with animal escapes.

Previously, officers were expected to watch a 10-minute training video on what to do when an animal gets loose, but few officers saw the tape.

Story here.

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