Questions arise around Palm Beach Zoo policy

Posted at 7:43 PM, Apr 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-25 19:43:25-04

The Palm Beach Zoo's CEO, Andrew Aiken, is scheduled to meet with the media on Thursday.

The time and place have not been announced yet.

The news comes just days after Aiken released a statement in response to Stacey Konwiser's death.

In it, Aiken stated that the incident is being investigated by five different entities, including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, West Palm Beach Police and OSHA.

Aiken answered a series of questions in Friday's statement, one of which said "Zookeepers are never to enter an enclosure when a tiger is present or has access to the enclosure."

The zoo's CEO also stated that in the wake of the incident, the zoo has "instituted an interim two-person system for moving tigers in the night house. The use of a two person system for moving tigers in the night house is not required by AZA standards."

But documents from 2006 show that the zoo was using this protocol with tigers.

In 2006, a staff member was bitten on the hand while feeding a tiger. Documents show that the zoo was requiring that two people handle tigers, and specified how to feed them to avoid being injured.

According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, an accredited zoo only needs one person present when handling dangerous animals, except for elephants where a two-person team is required.

Staff with the AZA said facilities must submit a copy of their risk policy each time they go through the accreditation process, which happens every five years. But those documents are confidential.

There will be investigators from the AZA coming to the Palm Beach Zoo in response to Stacey's death.

The AZA requires inspection when there is a death at a facility caused by an animal. It's not clear yet when those investigators will be at the Palm Beach Zoo, but the agency is telling the zoo to continue working with authorities that have been onsite since the incident occurred.

The Palm Beach Zoo's accreditation is up for review in March of 2017.