Zoo decides against ‘open carry’

BROWNSVILLE — Gladys Porter Zoo has implemented a no-open-carry policy in the wake of the state’s new “open carry” gun law, which makes it legal to openly carry a firearm in places that previously only allowed concealed carry.

Patrick Burchfield, the zoo’s director, said his institution has allowed concealed carry for years without incident, though open carry is something different.

“It would affect attendance, particularly since we serve people from all over the country that are not from South Texas and don’t have quite the same take on open carry,” he said. “We’re trying to balance it. We don’t want to infringe on anyone’s rights. At the same time, we can’t afford to lose zoo visitors who would be fearful.”

Although some zoos around the state have elected to allow open carry, Gladys Porter Zoo’s policy matches that of the Houston Zoo, whose management argues that they’re on firm ground legally because of the zoo’s role as an educational facility.

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