“We are working with our internal and external professionals to conduct this investigation. What happened? Why did this happen?” said a zoo official.
SAN ANTONIO — A day after a large cedar elm branch fell and injured seven people, work at the San Antonio Zoo on Thursday focused on the recovery and safety of zoo guests.
A zoo official said most tree removal work was completed quickly. Restoration workers spent Thursday replacing a power pole and communications lines that were damaged when the heavy link broke.
As repair work continued, zoo officials said their thoughts were with the people injured on Wednesday.
Six of the seven injured have been discharged from hospital, but one child remained in serious condition as of Thursday afternoon.
“We’re worried about them,” said Hope Roth, the zoo’s vice president of marketing. “We are thinking of her and everyone here is sending our thoughts and prayers.”
Roth says the tree that fell looked healthy.
“Spring is definitely upon us and this tree, more so than some of the others here in the park, looked very healthy,” she said. “It was a very unusual event that took place. It was very unexpected.”
The area around the fallen branch was “immediately cordoned off by zoo security and first responders, including the San Antonio Park Police,” Roth said.
She said the site is on the edge of the zoo with direct access for rescue workers, so other areas of the zoo would not be affected and would remain open to zoo visitors.
Roth said zoo staff would redouble their efforts on Thursday to ensure all trees are safe.
“We are working with our internal and external professionals to conduct this investigation. What happened? Why is that happend? And also to check on the others to make sure this unusual event doesn’t happen again.”
Roth said they recognize that while people come to see animals, ecosystem health is also important, for both humans and animals.
“We have hundreds of trees on the property and the horticulture team here are doing an excellent job. It’s such a beautiful place to get out and get close to nature. It also serves as education, not only for young children and students, but also for adults,” Roth said.
While early morning rain made for a slow start, a spate of zoo visitors returned who took a risk and dodged showers, saying they wished the injured child well and believe the zoo would be a safe and welcoming place to go play remains.
Rachael Lucero brought her family from Lubbock. She said they heard about the crash yesterday but believed their visit would be a good one.
“We feel absolutely safe and comfortable coming to the zoo today,” Lucero said, adding that the family decided to come to San Antonio after a trip to the San Diego Zoo and hear good things.
“The San Antonio Zoo has so much to offer. We’ve heard this zoo is pretty much the same.” Lucero added that she and her family are praying for those injured in the incident.
The Lansley family traveled from Austin and said they believe the zoo staff did a really good job of restoring order.
“We’re going to check it out and make sure it’s safe to go and look for loose branches with the weather and all the things that have happened and we’re going to be extra careful,” Nicole Lansley said.
Zoo officials said that in addition to attending to the needs of the injured, they are also helping their own team members.
They say the zoo is usually a happy place and they want to help anyone who is having trouble coping with yesterday’s scary accident to get in touch.
“The zoo crew is family here and we provide services and we have emailed and informed our zoo crew that for whatever they are experiencing we have services that are available for them,” Roth said . “We not only take care of our employees, but also of our guests and those affected.”