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Lion's share of security.

Officials at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., have been reviewing security since last March when an Arkansas woman on an apparent suicide mission was mauled to death in the lion's den. Management faced the challenge of raising roadblocks for those in search of trouble while maintaining an open environment for the zoo's thousands of well meaning visitors. A two-step solution has been adopted.

The first step is a modest adjustment: to further hinder unauthorized access, the lower part of a sloping wall that leads from the visitors' area toward the lions' lair now has bricks in triangular configurations along the top. This modification makes climbing the structure more difficult.

The second measure extends security's watchful eye with a new video surveillance system that will target the lion and tiger exhibit. The system is expected to be in place this month.

The additional CCTV equipment augments safety measures that, according to zoo spokesperson Bob Hoage, make it "virtually impossible to fall into any exhibit by accident." For years, visitors have been separated from the lion's den by a railing and a planter, as well as by a nine- to ten-foot sheer drop to a water-filled moat.

The lions are also penned in by electrified wires. Moreover, signs warn patrons of the danger. But Hoage concedes that a determined person can get into the den. "If you want to defeat the barriers, it can be done," he says.

The zoo already uses video surveillance at all vehicular access gates as well as at other areas not identified as surveillance sites. Hoage says he knows of no plans to install cameras at other potentially dangerous exhibits, however.

The new CCTV cameras around the lion and tiger dens will be equipped with a motion sensor, says Hoage. It will activate an audible alarm at the exhibit and at the zoo police station if someone climbs over the railing. The transmissions from the exhibit will be monitored around the clock.

For the average visitor not intent on self-destruction, the zoo was safe even without the additional security measures, according to Hoage. The added surveillance, he says, is only "a precaution against a person doing the insane act of crossing barriers and jumping into the lion and tiger exhibit."
COPYRIGHT 1995 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:National Zoological Park
Publication:Security Management
Date:Dec 1, 1995
Previous Article:In your face security.
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