Texas zoo inspections reveal incidents involving animal cure, escapes, deaths

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – An in-depth glance at some significant Texas zoos as a result of inspection stories gives a historical look at incidents at the Dallas Zoo above the final decade, and it seems to place a single North Texas zoo in the highlight but not for causes you may well anticipate. 

The United States Department of Agriculture licenses and inspects zoos. The I-Workforce requested inspections, citations, and problems for 5 Texas zoos including Dallas, Fort Value, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston. 

We acquired additional than 400-documents referencing animal solutions, escapes, and fatalities.




In 2011, the data reference a chimp and a spider monkey escape at the zoo which led the USDA to be aware two citations: “Dealing with of Animals” and “Personnel” problems involving personnel numbers and teaching. The inspector states “The licensee have to have to re-evaluate the recent staff members, education, and supervision in the terrific ape location. He also tells the Zoo to “right the difficulty letting animals to escape.”

In 2014, the inspection report states a “keeper error allowed a woman lion to escape her enclosure….” The inspector cites the zoo for “Handling of Animals” stating “This facility wants to ensure these occasions don’t occur in the foreseeable future.”

The paperwork show the USDA has frequented the zoo at the very least 14 situations since 2011. In accordance to the I-Team’s assessment, inspector discovered non-compliant merchandise at 14% of the visits.


In the exact time period, our assessment reveals inspectors discovered non-compliant items all through 23% of their visits to the Austin Zoo. 

In San Antonio, non-compliant merchandise have been identified during 25% of their visits.

And at the Houston Zoo, non-complaint things were being pointed out at 50% of their inspections.

The vast majority of the goods at Austin, San Antonio, and Houston all concerned citations referencing “Facility” or “Sanitation Troubles.” 

FORT Really worth ZOO 

The documents reveal the Fort Truly worth Zoo is the only of the zoos with only 1 citation in the 10-year evaluation. 



In 2011, an inspector claimed an “Outside Housing Amenities” quotation concerning the sizing of the lemur show and its potential to shield the animals. The inspector mentioned, “Further shade wants to be presented for these animals.”

The I-Crew reached out to the Fort Value Zoo to uncover out how it has preserved this just about excellent document. 

A spokesperson would not talk on the file but sent us the next statement:

“…all accredited establishments have devoted employees and animal care teams fully commited to the protection and protection of their guests, workers and animals. I can only discuss for our Zoo, which has an exemplary staff that will work tough each individual day to retain our record. I would give credit rating to our employees, in particular our top rated animal administration staff with 150+ years of merged encounter.”


Upcoming, the I-Workforce turned to the American Association of Zookeepers to get a better knowing of the hundreds of documents we attained and to dive further into how these zoos review to every single other.

“When you are subjected to a USDA inspection and the vet comes in… it’s very subjective,” claims Ed Hansen. 

Hansen is the CEO of the Affiliation. He’s been a zookeeper for far more than 45-decades.

Referring to the Dallas and Fort Well worth Zoos, Hansen mentioned both of those are leading-rated exhibitors. “I will notify you that the two of people are high-quality institutions, perfectly-run institutions and very well revered in the market.” 

Hansen explained he ran a compact zoo with 15 acres and a tiny staff. “We would routinely have two to a few difficulties that we couldn’t quickly solve or two or a few problems that wanted even further investigation.”  

He claims the citations in the paperwork the I-Crew showed him are “typical.”

“In larger zoos, when we are caring for everywhere from 500 to 1,000 animals on any specified working day, you will find going to be anything which is not up to inspection requirements.” 

The I-Group requested Hansen if the Dallas Zoo has a good record. He claimed, “…absolutely! A excellent report.”


The documents the I-Team attained expose the Fort Worth Zoo also had zero “Animal Welfare Problems” from 2011 to 2021, the past 12 months for which documents are accessible. 

Animal Welfare Grievances are all those prospects, advocacy teams, or lawyers commonly file with the USDA. 

The documents we obtained incorporate three Animal Welfare Grievances submitted against the Dallas Zoo.

Between them, in 2016, 4 complainants comprehensive their issues about five African elephants which had been flown into Texas. 

The USDA discovered no “no non-compliant” objects right after investigating this concern.

In 2021, a grievance submitted by a human being who claimed to be a Dallas Zoo member lifted problems about the security of animals. The complainant delivered texts and emails, allegedly from zookeepers, referencing a listing of animals which had died in the previous few many years. The listing incorporated giraffes, chimpanzees, and a zebra. 

Following an investigation into this criticism, the USDA inspector discovered no non-compliant products, no wrongdoing. 

He said, “Records for all fatalities because 2019 ended up reviewed during a the latest inspection. In accordance to the documents, all fatalities associated in just disease ended up determined in a timely way and enough vet treatment was furnished. Some of the deaths were being accidents that could not be foreseen.”

“Malicious Functions”

Hansen is brief to say the thriller at the Dallas Zoo is not one particular that could have been “foreseen.”

“This falls outside the house of a zoo inspection…. These are destructive functions.”

He separates the findings in the USDA inspections from what has lately taken put at the Dallas Zoo.

“…an animal welfare difficulty is fully diverse than what you are working with right here. This is something absolutely distinct. This is malicious conduct and harming of metropolis and zoo house and now theft of an endangered species.” 

SPARKING Safety AND Stability Improvements Around the world

At the identical time, Hansen states adjust is wanted and it is likely coming. He says zoos are previously functioning to prevent these functions in the upcoming.

The veteran zookeeper states exhibitors all over the earth have their eyes on Dallas suitable now. “I assure zoos across the region and it’s possible even more …are using methods to heightened awareness.” 

Hansen states zoos will in particular be on warn about suspicious action. “You know…people that say they’re missing and they are in destinations they are not supposed to be.”


Zoos may possibly shortly be inquiring for your support also.

If you stop by a zoo and see any suspicious activity, you can file a complaint with the USDA here.


“At this time, we will not be ready to accommodate your job interview request. Also, we never expand over and above what is presently integrated in the inspection experiences.”