First let me just say I’m a big fan of the Kansas City Zoo. I’m such a fan that my kid is spending 3 days this week at Zoo Camp. We are “friends of the zoo”. I have been going to the Kansas City Zoo regularly since my daughter was a baby. I’ve been to the new penguin exhibit. I’ve hung out in the polar bear exhibit. I’ve walked up that horrible hill from Africa on many a hot, Kansas City day.
I’m shouting it from the rooftops, “I love the Kansas City Zoo!”
In case you haven’t heard, there was a shooting at the Kansas City Zoo on free zoo day for Jackson County residents.
There was a shooting at my zoo. There was a shooting at our zoo.
So now what Kansas City? There is a lot of debate in this town about the shooting. Everyone is focused on the fact that it was free day for Jackson County residents. Is free day the problem? Should free day at the zoo be stopped?
Stop free zoo day if you think that’s going to solve the problem.
Here’s a hint. It won’t.
In case you haven’t noticed, there isn’t any security at our zoo on free zoo day or any other day. I can waltz right into our zoo with my backpack and cooler and nobody at the zoo stops to check it. The staff at the entrance can barely handle making sure everyone has tickets, let alone stop and check backpacks.
It’s 2014 and I’m allowed to enter a large public space without anyone looking in my belongings. Come on Kansas City. I can’t enter a stadium or any other amusement park these days without having all of my belongs checked and sometimes I’m even wanded before I enter.
Not at our Kansas City Zoo.
I can drive my car almost up to the entrance of the zoo. Then I can take my backpack and walk right in. The only thing the zoo is concerned about is if I paid. That’s it.
I can’t see a show in the neighboring Starlight Theater without having my bag checked. Why one and not the other?
In a time when domestic terrorism and mass shootings are unfortunately becoming a common occurrence, the fact that our zoo doesn’t check backpacks and coolers is outrageous.
Stop free zoo day if you think that will help, but the only thing you are doing is putting a band-aid on a bigger security vulnerability that has thankfully been relatively safe until now.
Kansas City and the Zoo need to invest in security at the entrance, in the parking lot and throughout the park. The entrance should be more secure with personnel checking all belongings when they take your ticket. There should be security in the parking lot with cameras and some officers patrolling.
This needs to happen on free zoo day and every other day. This isn’t about free zoo day. This is about the harsh reality facing America today – we need security in large, public spaces. Taking these extra steps will ensure that the people and the animals stay safe.
If you agree with me, share your thoughts with the zoo. I know I’m going to.