Changes enacted to free zoo day to help curb violence - KCTV5

Changes enacted to free zoo day to help curb violence

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This past March at the zoo's last free day the zoo was out in the parking lot with some attendees firing gunshots and several fights breaking out. Several people were arrested as a result and the incidents were taxing on the zoo itself.

"Talk about overflow parking and hire parking services and have extra security. Bring in every employee, nobody got a day off, people are on overtime," said Randy Wisthoff, the zoo's CEO and executive director.

To get a handle on the problem, zoo officials and leaders came up with the idea of staggered free days rather than just one. Their new idea involves mailing Jackson and Clay County residents tickets for a range of three possible dates to visit through November.

"We worked with everybody on this new policy, from the mayor, city manager, the council people, police department, other city departments, public safety," Wisthoff said. "We took every idea we got, kind of melded it down into what we thought was the best working system. This seemed to satisfy, with our postcard, kind of diluting out."

Those using their postcards on Tuesday seemed to like the new idea.

"I think this is a great idea. I mean, as soon as I got this in the mail, I had made the plans with my granddaughter, ‘let's go,'" Debra Cassady of Kansas City said.

For young mom Mercedes Currie the new policy couldn't have come at a better time.

"I hopes they would stop it altogether honestly because I just think it's complete chaos. It doesn't make an enjoyable trip, especially bringing, I have a little son coming so it's definitely better, much better," she said.

The free zoo days were a stipulation of a sales tax passed by voters in the two counties to provide tax money for zoo improvements and upgrades.

One hundred seventy-two of the free admittance coupons were redeemed on Tuesday, bringing in 650 people. The zoo also is enacting other safety measures by installing more cameras on the property. They say the safety measures were underway before the March melee,  but in its wake more cameras are being installed than initially planned.

The zoo will have a free day for active and retired military members on Friday, July 4. All they have to do is show their military ID.

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