Cincinnati Zoo reopens gorilla enclosure with taller barrier (PHOTOS)

The Cincinnati Zoo has increased the height of its gorilla enclosure fence by six inches in an effort to avoid a repeat of last week’s tragic incident when a great ape was shot and killed after a child climbed over the barrier and fell into its enclosure.

At the launch of the new fencing, six inches taller than the one a 4-year-old apparently scaled in seconds, zoo Director Thane Maynard claimed that the park has “modified the outer public barrier to make entry even more difficult.”

The new wooden barrier – measuring three foot and six inches in height – replaces the previous stainless steel railing with horizontal cables. There are four feet of bushes after the fencing, as well as a 15-foot drop to shallow water which the gorillas can access.

Three security cameras have also been added in an effort to prevent a repeat incident, according to Reuters.

The zoo had temporarily shut it’s ‘Gorilla World’ area following the fatal shooting of male gorilla Harambe after the 4-year-old boy climbed into the enclosure on May 28. The area reopened today.

Groups, including Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN), claim the new barrier indicates that the zoo was responsible for Harambe’s death, something the zoo denies. At the launch Tuesday, Maynard said the previous fence met standards set by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), but that “in light of what happened, we have modified the outer public barrier to make entry even more difficult.”

The Cincinnati Zoo received top marks from AZA in its most recent inspections, according to WLWT. The zoo is also visited twice a year by the US Department of Agriculture, which examines the care given to animals there, as well as the safety of their exhibit areas.

Former zookeeper Amanda O’Donoghue posted on Facebook that the more natural enclosures zoos have employed in recent years work well until “little children begin falling into exhibits, which of course can happen to anyone, especially in a crowded zoo-like setting.”

In San Diego, a low wooden barrier is used in front of a moat to keep visitors away from the gorillas.

A number of zoos, including in Melbourne, Australia, have lined their viewing areas with tall glass so that the animals can be watched by visitors with little threat of anyone accessing the enclosure.