Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Board insists zoo safe after search for fugitiveKIM BARTLEYTuesday, 27 December 2005 The Zoological Parks Board claims the people and creatures of Western Plains Zoo are not in danger. But it has offered little other information about the zoo's role in the manhunt for fugitive Malcolm Naden or the impact of Statewide media coverage of its closure on December 23. That day police searched the zoo hoping to find the suspected murderer. In a statement released in the 24 hours after the zoo gates were reopened, the board said police had comprehensively searched for the suspect and "the area where this person is thought to have gained access to Western Plains Zoo premises has been locked down". "At no time has there been any threat to the visitors, animals and wildlife on site at Western Plains Zoo," the statement read. "As always their care and welfare have remained at the highest standards." The board said police would continue to conduct patrols around the zoo and surrounding areas with the "full co-operation" of its staff and security personnel. Yesterday a media officer for the zoo said management was not available on public holidays to provide further information. She said visitor numbers at the zoo following the search would not be known until after they were "collated" at the end of January. Zoo staff did not like to "speculate" on any ramifications of the search to the operations of the zoo, the media officer said. Police have declared the area safe but are making "sporadic" patrols of it in their bid to question Malcolm Naden in relation to the disappearance of one of his cousins and the murder of another.