Animal Thwackers

Some Metrozoo volunteers say that visitors are pelting the residents with rocks and other objects -- and that the zoo's administration doesn't seem to care

Pressman stresses that volunteers are vital to the education process. "I'm really surprised that Metrozoo's docents don't have walkie-talkies," she says. "They need to be in the communications loop." (Agnes Spurlock says she is studying the issue of walkie-talkies but that the cost A more than $1000 per radio A might prove prohibitive. Both the zoo administration and the zoological society would have to approve any new expenditure, the volunteer service director adds.)

As for rock-throwing, Bill Boever, director of zoological operations at the St. Louis Zoo, says his facility has used the most basic method to prevent it: "We just make sure that there are no rocks or pebbles around to throw."

Robert Yokel says workmen are in the process of removing pebbles and other stones from the grounds of Metrozoo, but that the job, like many others, takes time. "You just can't go through the trauma of something like Andrew and expect to recover overnight," explains the director.

The volunteers say they and the animals have waited long enough. "I've had to physically grab someone's arm to keep them from throwing a rock," says one of the women. "It goes on all the time. If it doesn't stop soon, there's bound to be another death or injury. And if I have anything to do with it, it won't be an animal that's injured."

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