Parents Face Backlash After Children Photographed Climbing Rock Wall of Texas Zoo’s Bear Enclosure

by Craig Garrett
Grizzly Bear Relaxing At Zoo - stock photo

A photo of children playing on a rock wall near the Sun Bear exhibit at the El Paso Zoo garnered hundreds of comments online. The image posted on Instagram received a wide variety of comments. “Animals have their own containment,” one livid user commented. “This is why we can’t have nice things,” a third person commented. Finally, another user implied the subjects of the photo weren’t the ones at fault. “Parents of the Year Award 2022.”

The incident occurred early Wednesday, KFox 14 reports. According to El Paso Zoo director, Joe Montisano, an investigation revealed the kids had climbed up the side of a rock near the Sun Bear exhibit. The children and bear never met–the latter was probably inside her cave at the time.

Some parents were heard saying “get down from the wall,” Montisano confirms. “There were a couple of kids that didn’t have the proper parental control, probably. They let them go climb on a wall they shouldn’t have been climbing,” Montisano explained.

Montisano stated that police will be contacted if the identity of the children is discovered. A hopeful Montisano had a message for zoo visitors. “People just need to stay behind the barriers, obviously,” Montisano pleaded. “People just need to play by the rules.”

The incident in the bear isn’t the first of its type for the El Paso Zoo

This isn’t the first time El Paso Zoo visitors neglected to follow the rules. In 2021, a video of a woman entering a spider monkey exhibit at an El Paso zoo went viral. Police arrested Elizabeth Luz Rae and charged her with criminal trespassing.

The El Paso Zoo is having to make some changes to the animal exhibit after Rae disregarded the rules and fed the monkeys.

According to Rae’s arrest affidavit, in order to get into the enclosure where the animals are kept, she had to jump over a fence that was 2 1/2 feet tall and 6 feet wide. She also had to cross a moat that was two feet deep. Reportedly, Rae fed the animals some kind of spicy chips, according to Montisano.

Zoo officials were able to quickly identify the woman as Rae via social media. The El Paso Zoo then decided to press charges against Rae with help from Montisano and the El Paso Police Department.

According to Nora Artalejo Lovett, the woman in the video worked for her at a local law firm, Lovett Law. The law firm terminated Rae because of inexcusable behavior. Montisano stated that they are modifying the fence and exhibit to protect both animals and guests after this incident occurred.