Kansas City Zoo beefing up security in wake of recent violence - KCTV5

Kansas City Zoo beefing up security in wake of recent violence

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The Kansas City Zoo will have extra off-duty police officers on hand on days when high attendance is expected in the wake of violence at the zoo earlier this month.

The zoo will add extra off-duty officers whenever attendance is expected to reach 8,000 visitors or more. Extra parking lot attendants will be on hand when attendance reaches 5,000 guests.

This is in addition to the zoo's own security and staff.

With the new penguin exhibit, a second polar bear and other improvements in 2013, attendance jumped to 880,000. The zoo predicts attendance will jump to 920,000 in 2014.

The zoo is hoping to keep seeing attendance gains.

"We will continue to plan for our growth in our future, which means many more large attendance days," the zoo said in a statement.

Zoo, parks, city and police officials are still sorting out a plan for free zoo admission days. Voters in Clay and Jackson County were promised the free days in exchange for their support of a zoo tax that helped fund improvements such as the penguin exhibit.

The first zoo free admission days occurred in 2013. Violence marked a day in 2013 and then fights and shots were fired during the free zoo admission day in March. No injuries were reported. Arrests were made and a teen has been charged in juvenile court.

Mayor Sly James immediately said on the night of the violence that the free zoo admission days should end. Zoo Director Randy Wisthoff said he believes zoos should offer them and they should not be in the dead of winter when few will show up, but improvements must be made.

The zoo hopes to have a "solid plan" by the end of April for tackling the issue, the zoo said in its statement issued Tuesday.

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