ASHEBORO, N.C. — Zookeepers at the North Carolina Zoo take care of the animals every day, but they rarely come face to face with the dangerous ones like the polar bears and gorillas.
The only exception is when the animal is under anesthesia during a medical procedure.
Zookeepers are allowed to have “free contact” with the animal once Chief Veterinarian Dr Jb Minter confirms it is fully asleep.
During the procedure, a trained staff member armed with a shotgun monitors the animal. That person must be prepared to take down the animal if people are in danger.
Curator of Mammals Jennifer Ireland is trained with the weapon. She said it is a last resort measure.
Many other precautions are taken to prevent people from being put in dangerous situations.
She hopes her training to fire the weapon is never needed.