Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of Carl Ross Sr., who passed away at the zoo last month. They have experienced a tremendous loss and it is understandable that they want to know what happened. We are continuing to look for answers as well. The county medical examiner is working to determine the cause of death, and zoo staff have been trying to determine how and why Mr. Ross might have entered the construction area.
Do you have a brief timeline of this event?
On the night of Sunday, Aug. 11, the zoo received a voicemail from the Portland Police Department notifying us of a missing person who was last seen at the Oregon Zoo. Monday morning, contractors found a body in a construction zone on zoo grounds. Zoo personnel were notified and they contacted Portland Police. The body was identified by Portland Police as Carl Ross Sr., a 62-year-old Portland man who attended the George Clinton concert on Aug. 10.
Circumstances surrounding Mr. Ross's passing are unclear at this time. The zoo can confirm that no animals were involved, and according to police there does not appear to have been any foul play. The county medical examiner is working to determine the cause of death.
What would prevent someone from entering this area of the zoo?
This location is part of an active construction site. Fencing and pedestrian barriers surround the area.
If the area is barricaded, how and why did Mr. Ross get in?
It's not clear exactly how or why Mr. Ross entered the area. He would have needed to cross several gated and fenced safety barriers to do so.
Where is security located on concert nights?
On concert nights there are security staff throughout the concert area and at intersections to off-limits areas of the zoo. After closing, security staff patrol the grounds. Portland Police officers are also on grounds during concerts.
Is there surveillance video that could shed light on what happened?
Unfortunately, there were no security cameras covering the construction area in which Mr. Ross was found.
Was the zoo contacted regarding Mr. Ross on the night of the concert?
We have no record of Mr. Ross being reported missing to zoo security the night of the concert — however, we are currently interviewing all staff and volunteers who were working the event that evening in an effort to learn more.
How did the zoo learn Mr. Ross was missing?
Our security team was notified the night following the concert (Sunday, Aug. 11). At around 8:30 p.m., Portland Police left our safety and security manager a voicemail with a description of a missing person, and asked the zoo to call them if we had any information. Upon listening to this voicemail (at around 11 p.m.), our safety and security manager sent out a description of the man to staff, advising them to be on the lookout. Security did not see anyone during their closing rounds.
Why didn't security find Mr. Ross during their nightly rounds?
Active construction zones like the area where Mr. Ross was found are off limits to zoo staff, and Mr. Ross could not be seen from outside of the construction zone. Security officers do visual checks from public pathways, but do not enter these areas for safety reasons.
What is standard procedure when a person is separated from their party at the zoo?
There are emergency search protocols in place for children and people of diminished capacity. When security is notified that an adult of diminished capacity or a child is missing within the zoo, protocol is to alert staff via an all-channel radio call. If they are not located within 30 minutes they are considered missing, staff are positioned at all the exits and the police are notified. For everyone else, depending on the level of concern expressed by the party, efforts are made to help locate the person, including but not limited to: notifying reception, retracing the steps of the separated person, calling additional security staff for assistance and initiating a search if necessary.
Why wasn't this protocol followed on the night of the concert?
Security records from the night of the concert do not indicate that anyone was searching for a member of their party with diminished capacity or known medical issues (or for anyone at all for more than 30 minutes). However, we are currently interviewing all staff and volunteers who were working the event that evening in an effort to learn more.
Is the zoo updating any security protocols as a result of this incident?
With any incident, we comprehensively review all operational processes and constantly look for process improvements. The safety of our guests is something we take very seriously, and we want to ensure that something like this never happens again.
Is the zoo cooperating with ongoing investigations?
Yes, the zoo immediately notified Portland Police when Mr. Ross's body was discovered, and cooperated fully in their investigation. The zoo also met with Mr. Ross's family on site and provided access to the area around the concert zone and construction site. We will continue to seek out and provide any information that will help his family find closure.