Cincinnati Zoo announces changes to Gorilla World ahead of June 7 reopening

The Gorilla World exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - The Cincinnati Zoo says it will reopen its Gorilla World exhibit on Tuesday, June 7. The zoo has made changes to the fence separating the public from the gorillas.

On Saturday, a 3-year-old boy climbed the previous fence, made his way through five feet of bushes, and dropped into a moat in the gorilla exhibit. Zoo employees felt they had to shoot and kill the 17-year-old male gorilla, Harambe, after he dragged the boy around the exhibit.

The new barrier railing is 42 inches high, according to the zoo. It has solid wood beams at the top and bottom, and knotted rope netting. The zoo says it's made the changes despite the past barrier passing inspections by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

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"It takes hard work and a sustained commitment to excellence to meet AZA accreditation standards. Our exhibit goes above and beyond standard safety requirements, but in light of what happened, we have modified the outer public barrier to make entry even more difficult," said Thane Maynard, director of the Cincinnati Zoo.

"In the case of this incident, which involved a child and a critically endangered animal, our collective goal is to take steps to assure it doesn't happen again," said Kris Vehrs, interim president and CEO of AZA. "Incidents like this are very rare, and the AZA Accreditation Commission will continue working with our members so that AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums remain safe for the 183 million guests who visit each year."

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While announcing the changes, the zoo made the point that 43 million people have visited Gorilla World in 38 years without incident.

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