At approximately 1:15 a.m. on Apr. 27, 2012 a Columbus Zoo and Aquarium staff member noticed two individuals walking through the North America area of the Zoo. She called out to them and when they did not respond she notified Zoo security. The Delaware County Sheriff’s department was called to assist with the search and responded quickly with multiple cruisers and officers as well as a helicopter.
Kyle Pierce, 21, and Sir Jaredd Branner, 18, were apprehended on Zoo property at approximately 2:20 a.m. They have been charged with criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct. Kyle Pierce worked as a seasonal employee in the Zoo’s food and beverage department in 2009 and 2010.
The Zoo’s animal care team have reported all of the animals are well and there does not appear to be any damage to Zoo property. A thorough review of the incident is underway and the problem with the gate the suspects were able to squeeze through has been corrected.
“We practice our emergency protocols on a regular basis and these drills often include area law enforcement and emergency personnel” said Dale Schmidt, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium President and CEO. “Our procedures and team work paid off today.”
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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is home to more than 9,000 animals representing 675 species and provides more than $1 million annually to support over 70 conservation projects worldwide. A recreational and education destination that includes the 22-acre Zoombezi Bay water park and 18-hole Safari Golf Club, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium hosts more than two million visitors annually and was named the #1 Zoo in America by USA Travel Guide. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Columbus Zoo has earned Charity Navigator’s prestigious 4-star rating. For more information and to purchase advance Zoo admission tickets, visit www.columbuszoo.org.