No more "Free Tuesdays" in March, Memphis Zoo officials announce

By Jamel Major - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The Memphis Zoo announced new rules Friday in the wake of Tuesday's flash mob that led to fights and gunfire outside the zoo's gates.

After closely reviewing their admission policies, the Memphis Zoo said the time has come for some much needed changes.  Officials said they are serious about keeping visitors out of harm's way.

Parents like Tracy Weekley said when it comes to her children, keeping them away from danger is her top priority.

"You'd expect a place that's family friendly to be safe," Weekley said.

An estimated 60,000 people showed up in and around the Memphis Zoo Tuesday.  Someone fired gunshots.

Witnesses inside the zoo said people sent text messages to meet for free Tuesdays at the zoo.

"We had a lot of lost children," said Chuck Brady with the Memphis Zoo.  "We had people who were caught by surprise by the sheer numbers.  We wanted to make sure everyone was OK."

The Memphis Zoo will continue to allow free general admission on Tuesdays after 2 p.m., but has discontinued the free Tuesday program during the month of March.  In the future, there will be no more free hours during spring break.

Starting this Tuesday, people planning to visit the zoo during free Tuesday hours will see some changes.  Children age 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult age 21 or older and adults age 21 or older may accompany up to five children age 16 and under.

In addition to the rule changes, the free Tuesday hours will remain from 2:00 p.m. to close.  A photo ID with proof of age and Tennessee residency are required for free admittance.  Current college or military photo ID will be accepted.

Memphis Zoo visitors commented on the rule changes.

"Being an adult, if you have more than five children, you can't handle five children," Weekley said.

Zoo officials said the rule changes are part of an effort to make sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable visit.

The Memphis Zoo is also teaming with the Memphis Police Department so that officers can help with crowd and traffic control.

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