• Jacksonville Zoo changes protocol to increase safety

    By: Elizabeth Pace , Action News Jax


    The Jacksonville Zoo and Garden gave Action News Jax reporter Elizabeth Pace an inside look at its training procedures to show the public how it has increased safety at its facility. 

    Action News Jax first reported in February that a zookeeper was hurt by a rhino during a training operation.

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    Since then, two investigations by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Department of Agriculture found no wrongdoing and ruled the incident an accident. 

    The zoo’s executive director, Tony Veecchio, said the rhino did not sustain any injuries. The zookeeper was hurt but is now back working as the facility. 

    The zoo has since reviewed its procedures and changed some of its protocols. 


    “There’s some rules now about how far you can reach in when you’re working with these animals,” Veecchio said. “We made a few adjustments to our standard operating procedures.”

    Now, trainers will conduct training mostly outside the gate to reduce the risk of injury. 

    “The most important thing about training is just keeper awareness,” Veecchio said. “We have a two-keeper rule just for this species because it’s a big animal.”
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