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No security changes at L.A. Zoo after woman hops elephant fence

December 28, 2011 |  1:26 pm

No changes to elephant exhibit at LA Zoo

The Los Angeles Zoo said it had no plans to increase security at the elephant exhibit a day after a determined visitor climbed over multiple barriers and petted the pachyderms.

The enclosure that separates the elephants from visitors is surrounded by multiple obstacles throughout the 6-acre space, including fences, ditches, a pool and shrubbery, said Jason Jacobs, a spokesman for the zoo.

That was apparently not enough to stop one woman from climbing into the elephant pen Tuesday.

The woman, whose name was not released, came face to face with the elephants after she scaled the public barrier, walked through tall bushes and climbed another fence.

"It was an isolated incident of extraordinary circumstances," Jacobs said. "This woman made a conscious decision to leave the zoo pathway."

The incident was captured on video by another visitor at the zoo.

One witness said she was inside for about five minutes.

"She went in to kind of check the elephants out," Branden Adams told KTLA News. "She comes out and she says, 'I'm going to go pet the elephants now.' And she goes and she started touching the elephants and seeing what they were doing."

The woman later admitted that she suffered a mental illness and had not taken her medication that day, the station reported. She was taken to an area hospital to receive treatment.

Three elephants live in the newly renovated exhibit, but only two females were roaming the space when the woman entered the pen. Jacobs said there were at least two barriers between visitors and the elephants at all times to protect the animals and guests.  

"Most visitors follow the rules," he said of the zoo's 1.5 million annual guests. "We have no plans to alter the exhibit because of the actions of one person."

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-- Angel Jennings

Photo: Tina is one of three elephants at the Los Angeles Zoo, where a woman hopped barriers to pet the pachyderms Tuesday. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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