Security at the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, Minn., is under closer scrutiny after more than a dozen animals died and three escaped their enclosures in last month’s flash flood, according to an article from The Associated Press.
The Duluth News Tribune reported Sunday that an alarm sounded three hours before zoo officials knew they had a serious problem. The security company followed protocol and told animal management director Peter Pruett of the alert about midnight, and the company also contacted police, telling Pruett that if the officers detected a true emergency, he would be informed.
Police never made it to the zoo that night, as they were overwhelmed by calls from stranded motorists. Even if they had been able to reach the zoo, the article says, they would only have had access to the main building and could look into the grounds though a fence, as they didn’t have a key.
The zoo, which was having financial problems and was in danger of closing three years ago before nonprofit Lake Superior Zoological Society look over its management, has had multiple problems with security in the past. According to AP, zoo guards patrolled the grounds until 10 p.m., but trespassers have been able to get into the zoo along Kingsbury Creek overnight and throw things at the animals.
Zoo staffers have been lobbying for security cameras along the zoo perimeter and 24-hour security for years, the article says, and some claim that having a guard on duty would have meant quicker action, possibly saving six sheep, four goats, a donkey, a turkey vulture and a snowy owl.
Following the incident, initial plans to hire 24-hour guards in July were expedited, and Zoological Society chief executive Sam Maida told the News Tribune on Friday that he has hired a company to provide round-the-clock security.