A man and a woman were arrested near the Toledo Zoo’s tiger exhibit early this morning after jumping the fence to play Pokemon Go, a mobile phone game.
Robin Bartholomy, 25, and Adrian Crawford, 26, both of Toledo, were charged with criminal trespass and booked into the Lucas County jail pending arraignment today, according to court records. They were later released on their own recognizance, with arraignment to be continued Friday.
"It wasn't the most responsible thing to do, but hey, gotta catch 'em all," Ms. Bartholomy said in an interview today while clutching a stuffed Marill, an aqua mouse Pokemon.
Pokemon Go, which has amassed a huge following since its release July 6, allows users to catch Pokemon in real time and in real locations by using GPS to direct players to local landmarks, where the Pokemon and certain challenges are located.
Ms. Bartholomy said she and Mr. Crawford were playing the game at Walbridge Park when they decided to jump the zoo's fence on Broadway Street at about 1:30 a.m.
While on the zoo grounds, Mr. Crawford said, the two "snuck around like ninjas," but were ultimately caught sitting on a bench near the tiger exhibit. They had been inside for an hour, Ms. Bartholomy said, when the pair were approached by Toledo police and zoo security after being seen on a security camera.
"It was all fun and games until the cops showed up," Mr. Crawford said.
Mr. Crawford said the temptation to jump the fence was irresistible.
"There are so many stops in there, and so many Pokemon," he said. "We'd been wanting to go there for like a week now, and we thought, 'let's just go in there, what do we have to lose?'"
Ms. Bartholomy and Mr. Crawford said they have been playing the game for at least a couple hours every day since it launched in the United States.
The pair are now banned from the zoo, Mr. Crawford said.
"We kind of regret it, because now we can't go in there and beat that gym," he said.
On Sunday, Ms. Bartholomy had posted an update on her public Facebook profile that said, "I am not above breaking and entering for a Pokemon."
She has since deactivated her Facebook account because of an onslaught of nasty messages, she said.
Shayla Bell Moriarty, director of communications for the zoo, said the two did not attempt to access behind-the-scenes areas and no animals were disturbed.
“We have 24/7 security and we’re constantly monitoring," she said. “This was all handled within minutes.”
The zoo's protocol for trespassers is for security staff to immediately notify Toledo Police and Regina Lester, assistant director of security. Staff then trails trespassers from a distance while also tracking them on the zoo's many security cameras.
“My security team and Toledo police did an excellent job," Ms. Lester said. "How it played out is how it should have.”
Mrs. Moriarty said the zoo welcomes Pokemon Go players on the grounds, so long as they play in conjunction with a paid admission during regular hours.
“We always encourage guests to visit the zoo, but we ask that they follow the safety precautions already set out and not to enter restricted areas," Mrs. Moriarty said. “Just do it in a safe and conscious way. Game or no game, this is why we have the precautions and barriers that we do.”
The zoo has been steadily adding cameras and updating security procedures and protocol over the last few years, Ms. Lester said. Incidents of trespassing are few and far between, and have so far been limited to people breaching the perimeter after hours.
“It does surprise us any time someone is able to breach our perimeter," Ms. Lester said. "We do perimeter fence inspections throughout the year."
The animals themselves are well protected from anyone who might seek to access their various enclosures, which would endanger both the human and the animals.
“We have multiple barriers prior to that point," Ms. Lester said.
The zoo will review this morning's incident and make any changes deemed necessary.
“We are going to be on high alert, and I'd like to think we're always on high alert," Ms. Lester said. “We want to ensure that our perimeter isn’t breached by anyone, whether it’s gamers or anyone else.”
A police spokesman said he knows of no other local trespassing incidents related to Pokemon Go.
Staff writers Ryan Dunn and Mike Sigov contributed to this report.