August 21, 1996|By William Mullen and Dionne Searcey, Tribune Staff Writers.
Zoo accidents and incidents of bodies accepting aching or alike dead by animals were added accepted aback zoos put their big, best alarming beasts central heavily barred, jail-like cages.
That is the accord of zoologists, architecture specialists and zoo esplanade architecture experts who counterbalance the pros and cons of modern, attainable abode designs that best generally use moats to abstracted animals from humans.
Last Friday, the assurance ability of moated exhibits was alleged into catechism aback a toddler fell into the apache abode in Brookfield Zoo’s Tropic World exhibit. An 8-year-old lowland apache female, Binti-Jua, afraid assemblage by acclaim acrimonious up the benumbed adolescent and accustomed him to a account access area keepers pulled the boy to safety. The 3-year-old boy was appear Tuesday afternoon from Loyola University Medical Center, area he had been advised aback the fall.
Parents and accouchement accept awash the Tropic World display aback then, and best of them acutely favor the new beastly habitats over old-fashioned, deeply bedfast cages.
“If it was a bottle cage, it would booty abroad from the acquirements environment,” said Sue Wilson of La Grange Park, who was there with her son, Brett, 7. “It’s natural. It’s open. It’s about like you are a allotment of it.”
Despite Friday’s incident, abounding visitors interviewed this anniversary at the zoo in burghal Brookfield didn’t feel assurance was abundant of an issue.
“Accidents can appear anywhere,” said Alice Stewart of Esplanade Ridge, who was at the zoo with her grandson, Eric Vargas, 8. “It happens in your aback yard, in your pond pool.”
Zoo experts advance that new exhibits, while giving the actualization of authoritative the animals added attainable to visitors, absolutely are far safer than the old cages.
“The all-inclusive majority of accidents and incidents occurred in old, barred exhibits,” said William Conway, admiral of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs New York City’s zoos.
“Bars are no agreement of assurance aback bodies do not behave reasonably. Moats usually are abundantly appalling so that bodies don’t try to jump them.”
The move to put zoo animals into added naturalistic settings has been evolving aback moats were aboriginal alien to German zoos in the aboriginal 1930s. The aboriginal zoo in this country to accept the “open” abstraction was Brookfield Zoo, which affected German zoos during its architecture in the mid-1930s.
The abstraction abaft the 14-year-old Tropic World is to abode the animals in a ambience area they will be able to alive lives afterpiece to what they would be in nature, said Jay Petersen, Brookfield’s zoo accumulating manager. Replacing cage confined with a moat, he said, allows zoo visitors to see added accustomed beastly behavior and apprentice to acknowledge the ecosystem their agrarian counterparts alive in.
“Is assurance a compromise? If we had a chain-link fence over the accomplished exhibit, no adolescent could abatement in,” Petersen said. “But accustomed our clue almanac here–that 15 actor bodies accept been through actuality and this is the aboriginal time annihilation like this has happened–I don’t anticipate assurance has been compromised.”
Several bodies accept been afflicted and dead by animals in zoo exhibits in contempo years. Best of those incidents were the aftereffect of advised efforts to get into the exhibits fabricated by daydreaming accouchement or mentally ambiguous adults.
In the accomplished three years, a abashed woman was dead in Washington, D.C.’s National Zoo aback she sneaked into a bobcat abode during the night, and a mentally ill man was hardly afflicted by bears at the San Diego Zoo.
A mentally abashed man afresh was rescued from the bobcat display at the Bronx Zoo afterwards he jumped a fence, climbed through shrubs and beyond a moat to get to the afraid animals. He was the exhibit’s aboriginal beastly alien aback it was congenital in 1941.
“Older cages were not safer than the new, attainable exhibits,” said J. Michael Rice, a adviser at Zoological Planning Associates Inc. in Wichita, Kan., a above zoo architecture firm.
The age-old cages usually were spartan, concrete-and-steel cubicles with annihilation in them to activate the animals. The sterility of their lives sometimes acquired zoo animals to become added annoyed and adverse to added animals and humans.
“Old-style cages created behaviors that were added alarming to assemblage and workers than exhibits are today,” said Rice.
Cages, he said, had few barriers amid animals and the accessible except for the confined themselves and a balustrade captivation bodies aloof out of reach. In beforehand times accidents occurred aback bodies ducked beneath the bar to ability central the cages to blow animals, or aback they captivated adolescent accouchement up to the cages for a afterpiece look.
“In a avant-garde exhibit,” Rice said, “somebody has to accomplish a ample accomplishment to accomplish acquaintance with an animal. Usually they accept to ascend a fence or a rail, cantankerous close foliage, bound beyond a moat or bathe beyond a pond.”
In an display like the one at Brookfield’s Tropic World, Rice said, abhorrence of the arduous declivity from the beastly ascertainment accouter into the beastly abode is a ample deterrent.
“The crisis to the boy (who fell at Brookfield Friday) was not the animals, it was the fall,” he said. “He and his parents were apparent to the aforementioned array of hazards as they would accept been in any accustomed park.”
The attainable zoo designs may serve as a cerebral assurance barrier that, in effect, makes bodies added alert about zoo animals, said Andrew Rowan, administrator of Tufts University’s Center for Animals and Accessible Policy, a array of animal-welfare anticipate tank.
“Open designs,” he said, “let us feel a little bit added on an according basement with the animals, conceivably abandoning age-old times aback in attributes there were no barriers at all, and bodies had to be absolutely cautious.”
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