Dozens of zookeepers met behind closed doors last night at their union offices, and the firing of Dr. Tim Reichard was among the items discussed, several of the keepers said.
As they filed out of the meeting, most were reluctant to speak.
Dr. Reichard, who was fired last week after 22 years as the zoo's chief veterinarian, says he was dismissed for speaking frankly to federal inspectors about animal conditions at the zoo.
The meeting was held at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Ohio Council 8 building on Reynolds Road.
One keeper, who asked not to be identified, said the situation is frightening.
"We need help out here, and we are scared," the keeper said. "We don't know who to trust or who to talk to."
To show solidarity with Dr. Reichard, several zoo employees last week wore black ribbons while working at the zoo. However, keepers say they were told by zoo officials to remove the black ribbons while at work.
Another keeper, who also asked not to be identified, said multiple parties share in the blame for what's transpired at the zoo.
"There's a lot of misinformation out there, and the zoo is paying the price," the keeper said. "The zoo is suffering because of the actions of a few - on both sides. There are two sides to every story."
Another unidentified worker leaving the meeting said, "I love the zoo."