Zoo Employee Fired For Helping Sick Visitor

Nina Chapa, 17, was allegedly fired from her job for helping a visitor at the Houston Zoo who was having an asthma attack.

Chapa was working at the zoo for a company called Images Everywhere, which provides photography services for the zoo’s visitors.

According to the zoo’s website, “There are over 2 million guests each year who come to experience our incredible variety of animals and ecosystems, as well as attend special private and public events and entertainment.”

From May 28 through September 5, the zoo is featuring a special dinosaur exhibit, which the site promotes as “animatronic dinosaurs that move their heads, arms, and tails, and even spit water!”

On June 30, Chapa says she was working near the dinosaur exhibit when she noticed a visitor who was struggling to breathe, reports KTRK. "I saw her on the ground, unconscious," she said. "It was an instinct. It was an 'act quick or someone's gonna die.'”

The victim, who Chapa guesses was about 20 years old, had a history of asthma, according to what she was told by the family.

Chapa says she called the zoo rangers, who are trained in emergency response, and then picked up the victim and carried her toward the exit of the exhibit. The next day, Chapa says she was fired as a result of her actions.  

Although a spokesperson for the Houston Zoo refused to comment on specifics, KTRK was informed that zoo employees and vendor employees are prohibited from touching or moving anyone in medical distress.

It is unclear whether Chapa was fired by the zoo or by Images Everywhere, which did not respond to calls from KTRK.

Images Everywhere has been providing photography services for theme parks, zoos and other entertainment facilities since 1983, according to the company website. “Images Everywhere currently operates at the Kemah Boardwalk, Phoenix Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo, Houston Zoo, Historic Pleasure Pier, various state and county fairs,” it says. 

Sources: KTRK, Houston Zoo, Images Everywhere / Photo credit: KTRK

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