Arkansas tourism leaders want to stop visitors from coming to the state’s “feral” reptile park in order to preserve it as a tourist attraction.
The Arkansas Parks and Wildlife Commission on Thursday approved a new policy that would ban visitors from entering the “Bizarre Reptile” and “Vicious Claw” exhibit.
The park’s reptile enclosure has been in the city of Little Rock for more than a decade and is known for its exotic animals.
“I’m not trying to offend anyone, but I am trying to protect the animals, and I want to protect this area as well,” said Arkansas Parks Director Jason Kochel.
The zoo is the largest in Arkansas and is home to more than 2,000 reptiles, a variety of amphibians and birds.
The exhibit includes a variety otters, crocodiles, lizards, snakes and birds, and is open to visitors of all ages.
Kochel said the zoo has been the target of a number of threats and vandalism, including “vandals breaking into the zoo to deface exhibits.”
“The only way to really make sure these animals are safe is to be vigilant,” Koche said.
Arkansas officials said in a statement the park’s enclosure is safe, but said visitors are advised to stay at least 5 miles (8 kilometers) away from the park and park visitors are also urged to not approach or touch any animals.
The park is a popular tourist destination for those visiting for its attractions, including the Ark Encounter, where visitors can interact with the animals.
A small portion of the park has been designated a zoo and is located within the city limits.