Louisville Zoo says its gorilla exhibit is safe

How safe is the Louisville Zoo?
Steven Taylor (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Steven Taylor (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Louisville Zoo says its gorilla exhibit is very different from the one in Cincinnati in which a gorilla had to be shot and killed after a 4-year-old fell into an enclosure over the weekend. 

The story out of Cincinnati is getting attention around the world and is causing quite a bit of controversy since the zoo had to kill the endangered gorilla. 

The Louisville Zoo said its exhibit is newer than the one in Cincinnati and is safe. 

Steven Taylor is the assistant director of conservation, education and collections at the Louisville Zoo. Taylor said the Louisville Zoo works closely with the Cincinnati Zoo. He said what happened there is heartbreaking and he feels the Cincinnati Zoo handled the situation to the best of its ability.

Getting to see the gorillas up close is what's unique about Louisville Zoo's Gorilla Forrest, which opened in 2002. It's home to 10 gorillas. It's a face-to-face experience through about an inch-and-a-half of glass. 

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"You'd have to really be working hard to want to get in," Taylor said. 

The majority of all the gorilla viewing is through glass or mesh. There is also an overlook where you can see the gorillas at a distance.  

The outdoor yard walls also have be maintained at certain height.

Taylor said they want their gorillas to be gorillas. The Western Lowland gorillas are endangered. The average male is more than 5 feet tall and weighs around 400 pounds. 

The Louisville Zoo says it talks safety all the time. It also has an emergency response team, like the one Cincinnati Zoo has, and does drills throughout the year and trains with the Louisville Metro Police Department. 

"We train with 12 gauge shot guns if we ever have to use a weapon like that," Taylor said.

He added they can use tranquilizers depending on the situation. 

Taylor said it would be very difficult for someone to get inside their gorilla exhibit. 

"You'd have to break safety glass, three panes of safety glass, to try to get through," Taylor said. "If you've ever hit safety glass you know it's impossible."

Taylor said the safety of the Zoo patrons, the staff and the animals are their priory. 

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