The Smithsonian’s National Zoo has decided to step up security measures with an increased police presence following two shootings that left two teenagers injured a few blocks away on Saturday night.
The Zoo closed early on November 30 and its officials held a meeting with D.C. police, the Smithsonian Office of Protection Services and Metro Transit Police the next day. The ZooLights opened on Sunday with more advanced security provided by a higher number of officers.
“We opened with this great success and joy and something like last night is pretty devastating,” Pamela Baker-Masson, a spokeswoman for the Zoo, said about the opening of ZooLights, Fox 5 D.C. reported.
“ZooLights is a family friendly event and we are not going to be deterred by a handful of really disruptive people. We are enhancing our security so people really feel safe. We want everybody to still come for the rest of the month.”
Baker-Masson told the media that in addition to increased security staff and heavier police presence, there would be bag checks and wanding at temporary screening stations that would be installed, as per the outcome of the meeting.
“When things like this happen, it’s appropriate for us to pivot quickly and modify our security plans to be more robust,” Baker-Masson was quoted as saying.
According to the spokeswoman, the new security plan will be based on visitor projections, meaning even more measures to be put in place on the days more people are expected to visit the Zoo.
The increased security plan will continue through the end of the ZooLights event on January 1. The D.C. holiday tradition will take place from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. every night until New Year’s Eve.
The shootings that concerned the National Zoo officials occurred at around 9:00 p.m. Saturday, the first one near the 2100 block of Connecticut Avenue and the second near Calvert Street and Biltmore Street, south of the National Zoo. The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) announced that two juvenile males were shot in the two separate incidents. Both victims were taken to a nearby hospital afterwards.