OMAHA, Neb. — Omaha’s zoo is blaming staff miscommunication for an incident in which a boy using a wheelchair was barred from the zoo’s new splash pad.

Nicole Steng told the Omaha World-Herald ( ) she took her 8-year-old son, Titus, and his sisters to the new Alaskan Adventure splash pad last month at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.

A young staffer and a zoo supervisor told them Titus’ wheelchair couldn’t go onto the pad because pad’s ground cover wasn’t durable enough to handle the wheels, Steng said.

She said she remembers saying to them: “‘You’re telling me that my handicapped child is not allowed to play in a public facility that we are paying for. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the intention.’?”

Steng said Titus went home disappointed. She shared her account of the incident with friends and learned Titus wasn’t alone. Steng said a friend of her son who uses walking canes also was denied admission.

Steng said she contacted the zoo for further explanation but received no reply.

Zoo spokeswoman Dawn Ream told the newspaper the two zoo staffers were wrong: Wheelchairs are allowed on the splash pad. The zoo’s electric-powered rental scooters are barred, however, because they aren’t waterproof.

Ream blamed the incidents on miscommunication with staffers about rules for the new splash pad. A staff meeting was held in mid-August to make the rules absolutely clear, she said.

Information from: Omaha World-Herald,

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