SAINT LOUIS ZOO GRANTED RESTRAINING ORDER AGAINST CHALLENGER TO ZOO’S POLICY
TO PROHIBIT WEAPONS ON ITS CAMPUS
The Saint Louis Zoo today was granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against Jeffry K. Smith, a gun rights activist from Ohio who has demanded that the Zoo remove its signs prohibiting weapons on its campus. Smith is threatening to carry firearms into the Zoo at a protest he scheduled for Saturday, June 13.
Mr. Smith’s plans to protest on Saturday, June 13, will not affect the Zoo’s hours of operation or any scheduled programming. The Zoo will be open as usual and will continue to prohibit visitors from bringing weapons on to its property. Any protests will have to occur off Zoo property and will be confined to the public sidewalk.
Judge Joan L. Moriarty of the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis granted the Zoo’s Motion for TRO this morning. The TRO prohibits Mr. Smith (and anyone acting in concert with him or who has knowledge of the order) from entering upon Zoo property in possession of a firearm or any other weapon capable of lethal use (whether the weapon is possessed openly or concealed).
As stated in the Zoo’s Motion for TRO, the Zoo’s policy is consistent with Missouri law, including the recently enacted Section 571.107 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri, which prohibits the concealed or open carry of firearms in amusement parks, educational facilities and child care facilities. In its motion, the Zoo also pointed out that the statute allows public and private businesses that open their facilities to the public to prohibit visitors from carrying firearms on their premises as long as they post signs alerting visitors of the policy.
The Zoo also falls into the educational institution exemption because it operates a licensed child care facility—a preschool that uses the entire 90-acre campus of the Zoo as its classroom. The Zoo also conducts camps for adults and children from preschool to Grade 12, and these camps use the entire campus of the Zoo. School field trips and scout and youth group outings bring thousands of children to all parts of the Zoo on a daily basis for educational purposes.
In addition, the Zoo has partnered for more than 20 years with The Special School District of Saint Louis County, a local public school district that supports the educational needs of children with disabilities. The Zoo provides training, growth and preparation for the world of work to these students.
In the legal filing, the Zoo also pointed out attractions that qualify it for the “gated amusement park” exemption to the statute, including a carousel and a miniature railroad.
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About Saint Louis Zoo
Named America’s #1 Zoo by Zagat Survey and Parenting Magazine, the Saint Louis Zoo is widely recognized for its innovative approaches to animal management, wildlife conservation, research and education. One of the few free zoos in the nation, it attracts about 3,000,000 visitors a year.