Plans are afoot to make the East London Zoo safer and ensure a pleasant experience for animal lovers and patrons.
There are plans for much-needed fencing around the zoo as consultants have been roped in by Buffalo City Metro to assess the extent of the damage to the fence and the boundary wall.
Ark Corporate and Image Consultant was at the zoo on Friday with the police and the coastal protection unit, trying to ascertain how much would be needed to revamp the facility and make it safer.
The consultants will then submit a report to the city which will determine how much would be needed for the project.
The planned security upgrades come after a spate of crimes inside the zoo where people have, in recent years, been attacked by assailants, who have jumped out from the overgrown bushes.
Ark Corporate and Image Consultant spokeswoman Nickey Hardman said the aim of the assessment was to find out where the crime hotspots were.
“We want to know exactly how they [the alleged criminals] come in so that we can figure out a plan to repair the boundary.
“Our plan is to make the zoo a cleaner and safer place. We want to get rid of the bushes, so that people can have access to the zoo without being afraid of being mugged,” she said.
Hardman said after the assessment had been done, a proposal would be drafted and sent to BCM.
“This plan will definitely bring more people into the zoo. It is meant to reassure people of their safety when they are here.”
She said every staff member of the facility was eagerly waiting for the security plans to be implemented.
“They want the zoo to be a safer place. They all love the animals, but there is a bit of a staff shortage – but it’s nothing we can’t solve.”
She said she was 100% sure that the high crime rate at the zoo was the main reason why people were reluctant to visit the facility.
Zanekhaya Gobozi, a member of the coastal protection unit of the BCM dispatched at the zoo, said: “Ever since we came here, there has been a decline in the number of people who get robbed.
“Our job here is to safeguard the zoo, the employees and everyone else who comes here to enjoy themselves.”
He said previously muggings had been out of hand as the robbers would jump the fence and come into the zoo.
He said he was happy as the number of people coming into the zoo to camp and have picnics had increased.
“This place was packed during the festive season,” Gobozi said.
Meanwhile, there has been mounting pressure for the zoo to be closed because of alleged animal cruelty.
However, Hardman said there was no inhumane treatment towards the animals.
“I assure you all the animals are well treated, there is no animal cruelty.
“Fortunately the animals were never in any kind of danger or being exposed to lifethreatening situations. The only issue is the animals are old.”
She said the birds were in good health as they were treated by an avian specialist.
“We have had specialists coming in to assess the health of all animals,” she said.
By Zikhona Moyika – HeraldLIVE