Pretoria Zoo increases security after robberies

2014-09-14 14:47
(<a href=https://twitter.com/T2T_Trace>Tracy Angus-Hammond</a> via Twitter)

(Tracy Angus-Hammond via Twitter)

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Pretoria - The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa in Pretoria on Sunday said security measures have been increased in the wake of two robberies committed in its proximity.

“We are aware of two cases of crime-related incidents involving visitors outside the Zoo and all measures are in place to avoid any further possible incidents,” zoo spokesperson Craig Allenby said.

His comments came in response to an advisory issued by the United States embassy on Friday cautioning its citizens to avoid the tourist attraction due to safety concerns.

Two robberies

On Sunday, Allenby said that there had been two robberies in the area - one in October last year and one three weeks ago.

However, both had taken place outside the zoo, when visitors who had chosen not to park in the ground's designated areas returned to their vehicles.

He said that the most recent robbery had taken place in late afternoon when visitors - from South Africa - who had parked "quite a distance away" returned to their car. No weapons were involved and an arrest was made shortly afterwards.

Allenby said no recent crime incidents had been reported within the Zoo grounds.

In the advisory on Friday, the embassy said that there had been "a number of armed robberies committed recently against visitors to the Pretoria Zoo.

"Due to these events the... mission to South Africa advises US citizens to avoid visiting the Pretoria Zoo until the security situation at the Zoo improves," the embassy said.

Allenby said it was "unfortunate" that the Zoo was singled out regarding crime and that it was not yet clear as to what the catalyst had been for the issuing of the embassy's advisory.

Patrols

He said that police and metro police had increased their patrols in the area as a result of crime concerns.

Security measures inside the zoo included security patrols, CCTV cameras and secure parking.

"However, the National Zoo does caution visitors to be vigilant with their belongings as you would anywhere in the world."

Friday's advisory also cautioned Americans travelling in South Africa to be "vigilant in protecting themselves from violent crimes while in South Africa - as assaults, armed robberies and other crimes are prevalent around hotels, tourist attractions and public transportation centres in major cities".

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