John Ball Zoo reopens after gas leak prompts evacuation

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — John Ball Zoo is back open after a gas leak forced zoo workers to evacuate visitors and move some animals.

Grand Rapids Fire Department Battalion Chief Eric Freeman says construction crews were working at the zoo when they hit a 4-inch gas line around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

A photo of crews at John Ball Zoo after a gas leak on Aug. 20, 2019.
A photo of crews at John Ball Zoo after a gas leak on Aug. 20, 2019.

The zoo worked with the Grand Rapids Fire Department to evacuate the nearly 1,000 guests that were inside the zoo at the time. Some animals were also moved to holding facilities as a precaution.

“During that time we immediately went to emergency protocol for animal care. And so for different species, we implement a different procedure to ensure their safety. And again at this time, we have every reason to believe that all our animals – the 2,200 species we have here on our property — are good to go,” said Michael Lomonaco, chief development and community engagement officer for John Ball Zoo.

Freeman said gas was shut off to the site and DTE crews quickly resolved the issue.

Lomonaco said the zoo would reopen with limited concessions as soon as the leak had been capped and the utility company gives the all-clear, which happened around 2:45 p.m. Admission will be free to everyone until the zoo closes at 6 p.m., according to Lomonaco.

The zoo says it will give admission vouchers to those who were evacuated.

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