Arrests Made Following Stoppage of San Diego Zoo Gondola

A fault which stopped the San Diego Zoo Skyfari for two hours today was no accident, police say. A witness told the San Diego Union-Tribune four patrons were “swinging their gondola from side to side and knocked it off a rail or cable, forcing an automatic shutdown.” The San Diego Fire Department responded just after 2:00 pm but no evacuation was needed and approximately 100 passengers were safely offloaded under the lift’s own power. “Some patrons may need medical evaluation,” the department said in a 4:30 pm tweet. The San Diego Police Department later said it arrested four men, ages 20 to 24, on suspicion of felony vandalism.

The Skyfari is a VonRoll Type 101 gondola built in 1969. Its 28 four passenger cabins circulate between two stations at either end of the zoo.

8 thoughts on “Arrests Made Following Stoppage of San Diego Zoo Gondola

  1. LH January 29, 2022 / 9:56 pm

    I wish people wouldnt do stupid things… too many incidences like this and they will replace or shut down the lift. There aren’t too many 101’s left in service, and this one is probably one of the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pbropetech January 30, 2022 / 7:22 am

      Why would they replace it after an act of vandalism?


      • NoraZ January 31, 2022 / 7:14 pm

        Pbropetech, the gondola system is older than many (most) similar sky trams today (but it kinda makes them cooler to ride). If a few boneheads rocking the tram causes a shutdown, people might start clamoring about safety issues, etc., & there comes a point when the cost of prospective lawsuits outweighs the cost of updating (or removing) the current sky trams, even if they aren’t less safe, just more susceptible to vandalism.


    • NoraZ January 31, 2022 / 7:06 pm

      LH, I couldn’t agree more!! The saddest part is that the “youngsters” were all in their 20s — plenty old enough to know better!!


  2. Kirk January 30, 2022 / 8:11 am

    Electronic rope position detectors were added to that lift many years ago.
    It has mechanical deropement switch’s also.

    Sounds like maybe it was a partial deropement, miss alignment or damaged switch???

    Problem 1. That vintage of grip and sheave assembly, the cable catcher is very narrow and the haulrope could easily miss it in a deropement situation.
    Problem 2. The grip is not designed to pass through the cable catcher, like on newer lifts.
    Problem 3. The sheave assemblies do not have anti rotation devices.

    That being said the lift has been very reliable and runs 3000 to 3500 hours a year.

    But it can not tolerate much side to side swinging.
    If the cabin is swinging a lot entering a sheave assembly the grip wheels can hit the entrance guide and cause a problem like this.
    They are very conservative and shut it down with relatively light winds for this reason.

    Same true for the Sea World San Diego Gondola.


  3. Kirk January 30, 2022 / 3:28 pm

    Update: Sounds like the cabin was swinging and the grip got jammed up going into the Drive station.


  4. LiftMech February 14, 2022 / 10:15 am

    They were Marines! First Cavalese, now this. Whats next?


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