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    How The Zoo Handles Safety

    This weekend I’m making a trip to the zoo with my girlfriend. While I love seeing the different animals and even get nerdy about it (I used to want to be a zoologist), we’re primarily going because they have a craft beer event going on. Unique beers inside of the zoo on a Saturday afternoon sounds like an absolute blast to me and contains two of my favorite things.

    I’m pretty stoked for the trip, especially because I haven’t been to the zoo in over a year. I always like to go at least once every year because that’s how it used to be when I was growing up. My parents would make a three hour trip to St. Louis once a year on a summer weekend to take us to the zoo and a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. Because of that annual tradition, I always got used to seeing the different animals at least once annually. Luckily, I live in the city now and it’s only a 30 minute drive for me to get there whenever I want.

    It’s funny how there’s some controversy surrounding zoos. Ultimately, zoos want to take care of animals that may be endangered or must breed in captivity to increase that species numbers. But still, some people suggest that it’s inhumane to keep animals enclosed in such tiny structures compared to their real habitat. I’m sure there’s quite a bit more that goes behind everything than such simplistic ideas of one side or the other.

    One thing that does draw a lot of ire from the public, though, is the safety of guests. Unfortunately, this is almost always on behalf of the guests being idiots rather than the zoo making sure that the public space for guests is safe (because it is). Rather, you end up reading about some kid that jumped into a gorilla’s pen and the gorilla mauling the kid. And then suddenly it’s on the zoo because their animal killed a person but it’s never about the kid’s parents making sure their child was near them.

    Those sorts of things make me think about the safety around the zoo, though, just in case. Like, have you ever stopped to think about the windows on exhibits? The glass in the gorilla, walrus, polar bear, and lion exhibit must be extremely thick and fortified to be safe for guests to stand just feet away from wild animals. If windows like that can be so strong to withstand the brute force of nature’s killing machines, it makes me wonder what potential we’ve yet to reach on the strength of commercial and residential windows.

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