First responders train for potential wild animal escapes

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Dade City Wild Things_135095

DADE CITY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Dade City training for first responders proved timely in light of Friday’s Palm Beach zoo incident. A tiger attacked a zoo keeper Friday, and it took rescue crews a while to tranquilize the animal.

Monday’s training to place at Dade City’s Wild Things. “If it’s a cow out or a horse out. we know what to do. If its an exotic animal we have no idea, so when I heard about this class I was one of the first ones to sign up,” Corporal John Hayhurst with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said.

The class taught law enforcement how to keep an eye on and set up a perimeter around a wild animal on the run, until the animal experts arrive.

“I think that the zoo’s and law enforcement need to learn how to work together,” Vet Don Woodman said. “(So if an) animal escape(s) they know how to work together successfully to make sure everyone is safe, including the animal.”

Wild Things has real tigers on its grounds, but to be safe, they used a man in a tiger costume to re-create what it would take to capture it.

“It is important that first responders are on the same page in knowing what they are potentially getting into whether responding to an escape or a disaster where a facility has some of these animals,” Captain Chris Roszkowiak with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.

“What do you do if a bear wanders into your neighborhood, which naturally occurs here, and so what we want to try to do is get people a little bit more okay and say, ‘I know what to do if this situation happens,'” Vernon Yates with Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation said.

Animal experts told News Channel 8 the safety of the public and law enforcement comes first. Then, if at all possible, they also want the animals captured without harm.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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