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Charges: 2 jumped into giraffe exhibit at St. Paul Zoo to ‘get better view’

Two men jumped two railings, which are each four feet tall, to get into the gi)raffe exhibit at Como Zoo, startling the animals but not injuring them, over the weekend, according to St. Paul police. (Courtesy of Como Zoo)

ST. PAUL -- Two men jumped into the giraffe exhibit at St. Paul’s Como Zoo over the weekend, startling the animals and causing them to run to the other side of the enclosure, but not injuring them, according to police.

Police noted that the men, who are both 23, smelled of alcohol and were leaning up against the exhibit’s rail for support when they spoke with an officer, according to Sgt. Mike Ernster, a St. Paul police spokesman.

One of the men told the officer that he entered the giraffe area “because he wanted to get a better view of the giraffes,” according to Ernster. “He went on to say he wasn’t thinking.”

Police were called to the zoo about 5:40 p.m. Saturday. Zoo visitors pointed security officers in the exhibit’s direction, saying someone had just jumped in with the giraffes.

The security officers approached, saw one man was in the exhibit and witnessed as another jumped in, Ernster said. They yelled to the men and ordered them out. The two complied.

The men went over two railings, which are each 4 feet tall, to get inside the exhibit, said Matt Reinartz, Como Zoo spokesman. One man was inside for no more than 90 seconds and they “never got near the giraffes,” Reinartz said. He said giraffes are generally “skittish animals” and “get spooked by little things.”

Police cited the men for trespassing and released them off the zoo grounds.

Como Zoo has four giraffes, including a baby male named Prince, who zoo officials said wasn’t outside at the time.