Crime

Drunk woman who stumbled into elephant exhibit inspires new Denver Zoo signage

Denver Zoo has posted additional signage warning people to stay out of the elephant exhibit, says zoo spokeswoman Tiffany Barnhart.

The move comes in the wake of an incident on December 23 in which an intoxicated 21-year-old woman made her way past the barriers and into the elephant enclosure, apparently in search of a restroom. Kelly Flynn was attending Zoo Lights, an evening event at the zoo where alcoholic beverages are served, when she began feeling ill, her father told 7News.

In her search for a restroom, Flynn wound up inside Toyota Elephant Passage, the zoo's $50 million elephant, rhino and tapir exhibit, which opened in June 2012. Barnhart says that another guest spotted Flynn inside the animal enclosure and alerted a zoo volunteer. That volunteer radioed zoo staff, Barnhart says, and staff members responded to the exhibit. By the time they arrived, however, Barnhart says Flynn had made her way past an electric fence and out of the enclosure. The zoo's four elephants -- Kimbo, Dolly, Bodhi and Groucho -- were not in the yard at the time.

"She's a very, very lucky person," Barnhart says.

Flynn was not electrocuted, as the police originally feared -- but she was taken to the hospital for intoxication and subsequently charged with trespassing.

Barnhart says the zoo called Flynn's family to make sure she was okay and to figure out exactly how she got into the enclosure. Flynn was not injured and the month-long Zoo Lights event ended on January 5 without further incident. Though the zoo hasn't made any permanent changes to the elephant exhibit, Barnhart says it did install the extra signage to help ensure that what happened with Flynn doesn't happen again.

Watch 7News's report and see more photos of Toyota Elephant Passage below.

More from our News archive: "Denver Zoo welcomes Kimbo the elephant, a new companion for grande dame Dolly."

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar