Houston Zoo forced to remove 'No Guns' signs

A change at the Houston Zoo is getting a lot of attention, and it's not because of a new animal. It is because of something now missing from the entrance to the park.

HOUSTON -- A change at the Houston Zoo is getting a lot of attention, and it's not because of a new animal. It is because of something now missing from the entrance to the park.

"Why would you want to bring a gun to the zoo? I mean that's kind of crazy," said Damian Manuel, a zoo visitor.

The city of Houston recently required the "No Guns" signs to be removed.

"I probably won't be coming here anymore, but probably bad for them," said Anna Runge, a zoo visitor.

Even though the zoo is privately owned, a local gun rights attorney pointed out the zoo sits on city owned land. Being on public land means the zoo cannot ban guns on the property.

"I hunt and everything, so I'm not going to hurt someone with a gun," said John, a zoo patron. "If you feel more secure with a gun, carry a gun."

Most people KHOU talked to said it makes them feel uneasy to have their children around people possibly armed.

"You just never know these days. I'd feel safer going somewhere where it's restricted but what can you do," said Felica Manuel, a zoo patron.

But some felt it's a move in the right direction.

"If you have the right to carry, you should be able to carry," said Chrissy Richey, a zoo visitor. "That's my opinion. Everyone should be safe. If you think carrying a gun makes you safe."

A Houston Zoo spokesperson released this statement to KHOU:

"Houston Zoo is proud to be a zoo-based conservation organization with a mission to provide a fun, unique, and inspirational experience fostering appreciation, knowledge, and care for the natural world. And since 1922, the zoo has been a gathering spot for children and families to engage with and learn about animals and the world around them. Just last year, the zoo welcomed more than 200,000 school children on official field trips and educational programs and is on-track to exceed that number in 2015.

"As an educational attraction for so many children, teachers and families, the Houston Zoo has long-believed it was permitted to ban weapons from entering the zoo, and in accordance with Texas law, displayed statutorily-required signs communicating this ban, commonly called 30.06 signs, at both entrance gates.

"On Sept. 10, 2015 the City of Houston asked our zoo to remove our 30.06 signage which bans guns from the zoo. This is because the land in which the zoo is operated independently on is, in fact, city-owned. While the zoo is currently investigating the legal implications of this request as it relates to the new and evolving law, we have complied with the city's request and have removed our 30.06 signs from the entrances.

"Effective immediately, the Houston Zoo will not ask anyone who is lawfully permitted to carry a concealed legal hand-gun to stow their weapon in their vehicle while visiting the zoo. We do recognize that this has the potential to confuse or concern our guests and members and we want to emphasize that this will not alter our number-one priority, which is the safety of our guests, employees and animals."


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