PHOENIX (KSAZ) - The Phoenix Zoo is huge.
It covers 125 acres and is home to more than 1,400 animals. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums requires accredited zoos to have a dangerous animal response team because no matter how safe you think you are being, or that your facility is, bad things can still happen.
Daniel the orangutan at the Phoenix Zoo was brooding today says Denise Wager, the zoos senior primate keeper. She is also a member of the Phoenix zoo's Dangerous Animal Response Team. The team runs drills practicing what they would do if anything happens like what happened at the Cincinnati Zoo happened here. Being prepared involves target practice.
"We actually go to the range and we do shoot at targets. We also have loading drills so when we unload and load the guns because it's not something we do on a daily basis," said Denise Wagner.
If a "Code Red" involving a dangerous animal is called the Zoo's DART team has to be ready with lethal force quickly. Rifles and shotguns are stored in secured areas around the zoo. As safe as they try to make it for guests and animals, they know it could be a day when they have to shoot and kill an animal.
"Every time we come to work we are very cognizant of the fact that if we make a mistake and an animal happens to get out, or a person enters our area, that it's a possibility. We are very diligent in our daily routines and protocols to ensure that doesn't happen," said Wagner.
Logan Shidawara brings his two kids to the zoo often and doesn't worry about their safety for a couple of reasons.
"I think number one it starts with mom and dad watching kids and always notice there's a lot of staff here at the zoo, and they are always checking things for safety," said Shidawara.
Wagner says she hopes people will channel some of the passion that the Cincinnati tragedy has caused and put it to something good. She suggests giving to organizations that help and try to protect species like the lowland gorilla.