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Omaha zoo ensures safety at Henry Doorly following accidents in North Carolina, Florida

Posted: 1:38 PM, Jan 03, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-03 14:38:48-05
Omaha zoo ensures safety at Henry Doorly following accidents in North Carolina, Florida

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Animals are Dan Cassidy's passion. After a 2-year-old girl fell into a rhino at a Florida zoo on Monday, and a scare in Omaha you might remember from 2015, the man in charge of animal management at the Henry Doorly Zoo says it examines how it can improve safety after any kind of accident wherever it may be.

"I bring my kids and grand-kids here and I wouldn't do it if I didn't think it was safe," Cassidy said.

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo is the only workplace Cassidy has known after volunteering became a career 40 years ago. He also works in accreditation, making sure facilities across the country like the Omaha zoo are as safe as possible.

The Henry Doorly Zoo is a part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, an accrediting body to keep animals, zoo staff, and visitors safe.

"Every five years we go through strict accreditation process," Cassidy said. "They look at safety among animal health and welfare."

There have been close calls with what Cassidy calls code red animals. Those are the big animals like the lion that attacked an intern this week in North Carolina that killed her. The rhino incident injuring a young girl happened during a close-up educational experience.

"We wouldn't use any of our code red animals for a hands-on experience," Cassidy said.

In 2015, a gorilla named Kijito charged into the glass to intimidate other apes at Omaha's zoo, going viral. A display at the exhibit now shows the layers of glass separating visitors from the gorillas.

Cassidy reminds visitors not to provoke animals.

"Treat them the way you want to be treated," Cassidy said. "You wouldn't tease your dog, so don't tease our gorillas."