A SECURITY upgrade for the East London Zoo may be under way following a call by city residents to upgrade the facility.
The GO! reported (“Petition to close down city’s zoo”, January 25) that residents, concerned by the dismal look of the zoo and the welfare of the animals, had signed a petition calling for the zoo to close down.
The petition was started by a concerned anonymous local citizen with the hope of getting more than 5000 signatures. A total of 40000 have since signed the petition.
The GO! reported (“Call for action on the EL Zoo”, February 1) that a peaceful protest calling for the closing down – or a revamp – of the establishment facility was attended by about 100 Buffalo City animal lovers.
Buffalo City Municipality (BCM) spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya said at the time that the municipality acknowledged related challenges and had devised a clear programme of action to rectify such problems at the zoo.
On Friday, Ark Corporate and Image Consultant visited the facility along with the BCM’s Coastal Protection Unit and the South African Police Services (SAPS) to assess the facility.
The planned security upgrades follow on a number of criminal incidents, with visitors being attacked by assailants who jump from nearby overgrown bushes.
Spokesperson of Ark Corporate and Image Consultants spokeswoman , Nickey Hardman, said the aim of the assessment was to identify the crime hotspots.
“Our plan is to make the zoo a cleaner and safer place for the public to enjoy. We want to get rid of the bushes, so that people have access to the facility place without the fear of being mugged.”
Hardman said after the assessment has been done, a proposal would be sent to BCM.
Staff members were eagerly waiting for the security plans to be implemented, as they, too, wanted the zoo to be a safer place.
“The staff love the animals, but there are staff shortages. I am 100% sure that the high crime rate at the zoo is the main reason why people are reluctant to visit the facility,” Hardman said.
Member of the BCM’s Coastal Protection Unit member Zanekhaya Gobozi said since the unit had been present on site, the number of attacks had declined.
He said the animals were being treated well, but many were ageing.
Police were patrolling the zoo with spokesman Captain Hazel Mqala saying the patrols were part of their daily routine.
“We analyse places that have high crime rates, and deploy officers there. We have been receiving reports about the attacks that take place at the zoo.”