Following situation in Ohio, Utica Zoo talks safety measures


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - After exotic animals were let loose from the Muskingum County Animal Farm in Ohio, many wonder if something like that could happen in Utica or just what might happen if an animal from the zoo were to get loose.

"We certainly have animals here at the Utica Zoo that are characterized as Code 1, meaning if they got out of the zoo they'd be characterized as dangerous," says Executive Director of the Utica Zoo Andria Delisle-Heath.

Stressing safety first, the Utica Zoo says it has practice drills and trains its whole staff in case a dangerous animal gets loose.

"If there was an animal that did escape because of some really unique situation, what we'd do first is alert the staff through a code system," DeLisle-Heath said. "And then there's this prompt action that everyone would take to contain an animal and ensure safety of zoo visitors, safety of each of us as staff, and of course the animals."

Utica Zoo says they have a minimum of two gates around all of their exhibits, strict rules to make sure that gates are always locked, as well as an electric fence.

"We not only have the mechanisms that are man-made on the outside, but then there are inside some of the exhibits," she said. "We have wires and precautions to keep them from even getting close to the fence."

However, many of Utica Zoo's animals are predators, meaning if they did get out, they could be dangerous.

"Everyone, I think, assumes that these animals are all hand-raised and that we play with all of these and that isn't the case," says Utica Zoo Animal Curator Mike Bates. "These are all wild animals and if they were to get out in the community, they still have a lot of wild instincts."

Utica Zoo says they hope to never have to use any of the procedures they're trained in, but that preparedness and precaution are key.

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