The Denver Zoo attracts more than 2 million visitors each year, and with all of these crowds, they must have a clear plan in case of an attack or disaster. This summer, the zoo invited Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service’s (TEEX) National Emergency Response and Recovery Center (NERRTC) to provide training that will ensure the safety of visitors, employees, and animals in an emergency. TEEX instructors traveled to Denver to present the Senior Officials Workshop for All-Hazards Preparedness, which included a tabletop exercise focused on the roles and responsibilities of the zoo’s executive staff and crisis management team.
The TEEX team is familiar with training senior leadership on natural and manmade disaster scenarios. However, this was the first time they had to factor in the possibility of an animal escape or attack. TEEX Associate Training Specialist Nici English said that designing “this unique training was an exciting challenge.”
To create a scenario that would be fitting for a zoo, the team met with another TEEX employee, Tim Harrison, who also happens to have 47 years of hands-on experience working with exotic animals. With Tim’s expertise, the TEEX team could customize their training to meet the Denver Zoo’s safety needs. They used information about animal habits and enclosure details to modify the course to be realistic for zoo employees.
Alex Jadrich, Manager of Public Safety & Emergency Management of Denver Zoo, said, “It was an excellent forward step for Denver Zoo, as we aim to continue preparing our senior leadership with the necessary critical thinking and decision-making skills.”
Because TEEX is a member of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC), sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency (DHS/FEMA), they are able to provide this training at no cost. TEEX’s Executive Program travels around the United States and its territories to facilitate emergency management training for senior elected and appointed officials.
Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service
Vita Vaughn | Director of Marketing and Communications/CMO