WINSTON, Ore. -- The curator of the Wildlife Safari said anything is possible when dealing with wild animals. Many safety precautions are taken, but human lives always come first.
Workers at the Wildlife Safari have been following the news from Ohio, where exotic animals were let loose by a keeper who then killed himself.
"We watch it closely," said Wildlife Safari curator Dan Brands. "We take notes, because you never know when something like that could happen in our backyard, and so we want to learn as many lessons as we possibly can to make it safer here."
Brands said the biggest difference between the Ohio situation and the Douglas County park is that Wildlife Safari is a professionally managed zoo, while the animals in Ohio lived on private property. Wildlife Safari is regulated by state and federal agencies.
"We go under rigorous scrutiny, they look at our security protocols, they look at our staffing levels," said Brands.
He said he can't remember an animal ever breaking out of the park. But staff members run drills to know what to do if an animal did get out. Plus, animals are kept at a safe distance from visitors.
Many stringent precautions are taken so the animals can't escape, including locked cages, electric fences, and natural barriers, like streams.
In an emergency, the staff would shoot to kill animals if they were threatening humans.
"But ultimately, if it's safe enough, we're going to do a tranquilizing and going to bring that animal back in safely," said Brands.
Brands said the laws in Oregon for regulating these types of animals have become stricter, but in light of Ohio, he expects legislators may take another look at the laws.