A total of six animals escaped at four different zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in a ten day period, according to statements released by each zoo.
AZA accredited zoos are held to higher standards than roadside zoos and are touted as being safer and more humane than non accredited zoos. However, the recent string of animal escapes has raised concerns about the safety of the facilities.
On Aug. 29, three barasingha deer escaped their habitat at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, Louisiana, due to severe weather associated with Hurricane Ida. Two of the deer were quickly secured but one deer was unaccounted for, according to the zoo.
“This is not considered a dangerous animal,” the zoo said in a statement.
The zoo reported that the escaped deer was found the next day and was returned to its enclosure.
On Sept. 3, a saddle-billed stork left her habitat at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore and took flight.
“The public was never at risk during this time,” the Maryland Zoo said.
The stork landed in a public pathway and was recaptured shortly after, according to the zoo.
Also on Sept. 3, a lion briefly escaped its den at the Seneca Park Zoo in New York and entered a hallway in a holding area. Guests were evacuated from that section of the park.
“At no time were any members of the public in danger,” the Seneca Park Zoo said.
The zoo said in a statement that the lion was “quickly” returned to its den.
Then on Sept. 7, a rhino escaped from Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Nebraska. Zoo officials put the zoo on lockdown.
“He was in a behind the scenes area so at no time was anyone from the public in danger,” Henry Doorly Zoo said.
Zoo officials said it took about 50 minutes to lure the animal back into its enclosure.
Several of the zoos said they will be reviewing the animal escape incident and will make changes in their procedures accordingly.