Houston Zoo addresses safety concerns after reported cases of attempted abductions

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Parents still on edge after alleged attempted abduction at Houston Zoo, Steve Campion reports. (KTRK)

The Houston Zoo responded directly to Eyewitness News about growing safety concerns at the iconic park.

Staff wouldn't discuss specifics about last week's two reported cases of stranger danger. They said investigators asked them not to talk about the cases.

They did invite Eyewitness News reporter Steve Campion inside their security operations for rare access. They showed him their security apparatus which features security officers, private investigators, and hundreds of surveillance cameras.

Maria Gallegos is the Director of Health, Safety, and Security at the Houston Zoo. She said there have been no child abductions on their property in recent history. She said on any given day, there are more than 20 rangers working to keep the campus safe.

Gallegos said on busier days, off-duty police officers beef up their staffing.

"During spring break, we had over 200 lost children. That's what our team does. We get with the parent. We get with the child," said Gallegos. "Our team will hit the gates and make sure the child doesn't leave with anyone but that parent. We then have full reunions."

Gallegos stressed every day they are working to make the zoo a safer place.

Rania Mankrious, CEO of Crime Stoppers of Houston, chaperoned a field trip to the Houston Zoo last week. She said all adults must make public safety their top priority.

That includes being aware of where your child is and always keeping them within sight. It's up to parents to be the first line of defense against any potential child predator.

"You're going to do everything differently," said Mankrious. "It's alarming. It's alarming because those kids come here to have fun and to learn. They shouldn't have to deal with any outside threats. The reality is we live in a different world and a different time."

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