Orcas, and Tigers, and Painted Dogs, Oh My! The Need for Targeted Zoo Safety and Security Regulations

In recent years, news outlets have increasingly reported on zoo animal attacks and escapes, drawing attention to the lack of safety and security regulations governing the animal exhibition industry. Various aspects of zoo operation and exhibit design are regulated by a patchwork of federal laws and regulations, state laws, and industry standards set out by accreditation organizations. Many of these regulations, however, are not targeted at zoo safety and security and therefore do not address all of the risks associated with organizations that must create a safe environment for animals, zoo employees, and the visiting public. This Note explores numerous zoo animal attacks on members of the public and zoo employees that resulted in both human and animal casualties, and it analyzes how these incidents illustrate shortcomings in the current regulatory patchwork governing zoos and the need for targeted zoo safety and security regulation. In light of this analysis, this Note recommends increased regulation of the zoo industry by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service by putting specific standards in place to ensure that animals are contained in their enclosures and the visiting public is prevented from entering animal enclosures. This Note also advocates for increased regulation of the zoo industry by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to protect zoo employees from unsafe conditions and set standard emergency procedures for their safety.

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.