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The Fence Post

Childproof Structures for Zoos

June 30, 2016 | by Debbie Page

Harambe's End

It was an incident that shocked the entire world, with both animal lovers and parents everywhere flabbergasted by the outcome of something that could have been easily prevented. The Cincinnati gorilla killing occurred on May 28, when a 3-year-old child managed to climb through and fall into a herbivorous ape’s enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo, overlooked by the eyes of his mother. Despite her negligence in failing to monitor her son’s behavior, the mother was not charged and instead, Harambe the gorilla was shot dead. To add an even bigger element of shock to the tragedy, footage released after his death exhibited the ape’s seeming protective behavior towards the young boy. 

Gorilla and Fence

Enclosures that Protect

Following the death of 450-pound Harambe, who had celebrated his 17th birthday just the day before he was killed, investigations were demanded by animal rights groups, including Stop Animal Exploitation Now. Aside from the animal’s unfair end to life and the mother’s failure to know her son’s whereabouts, zoos everywhere are now wondering just how they can prevent future disasters such as this. So, what is the answer? To make sure structures are completely childproof.

Enclosure Basics: find the right fence, hardware, mesh, and netting

Here are some ideas zoos may want to consider to ensure the health and safety of visitors at your wildlife park or zoological garden:

    • Fences – There are so many fence designs and styles to choose from for safety purposes, including class 1 galvanized fences that are coated with a layer of zinc and class 3 galvanized, which are stronger due to their thicker coating. Heavy duty fences and vinyl coated fences will also do the trick.
    • Hardware – Once fences have been installed, they can be strengthened with hardware in the form of earth anchors and ground staples. Consider this if the animals in your zoo are of a heavy weight or possess good climbing capability.
    • Mesh and Netting – The options really are endless when it comes to selecting mesh and netting. For superior safety and rust resistance, hexagonal wire netting will be a worthwhile investment, whereas lightweight sparrow netting will work best for zoo enclosures with small animals, such as birds. Keep in mind that mesh can also be used to reinforce concrete structures.
    • Welded Wire – Stainless steel, vinyl coated, galvanized before (GBW), galvanized after (GAW) – the choice really is yours. Used widely for the containment of large animals, welded wire offers security that is impenetrable, making it ideal for childproofing purposes.

Barrier Strategies 

Being a zoo owner/supporter means that you are responsible for ensuring that both adults and young ones are safe in their surroundings. Making a decision about which childproof structure would be best for your zoo depends on what animals you house in your enclosures. For example, tall structures should be strategically placed to prevent children from being able to climb over the obstruction. Chain link mesh barriers would be best suited to keep smaller animals in their designated territory, as would net enclosures. Speaking to a professional who can provide you with bespoke solutions will guarantee that your structures are childproof for the long haul.     

Here's a video which describes the incident above in detail:                                                                                     

                                                                            

Topics: welded wire, galvanized, hex mesh

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