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Horrified Visitors Watch as Dog Gets Trapped in Gorilla Enclosure at Zoo

Adog got trapped in the silverback gorilla enclosure of San Diego Zoo Safari Park on Sunday afternoon, with footage of the incident showing two of the great apes chasing the pet pooch.

Videos of the incident have been shared on social media by witnesses at the zoo. One TikTok video shows the dog running from the gorillas, who chase it. The dog appears frightened as the gorillas approach it. Onlookers can be heard gasping in fear as the gorillas move towards the dog. “Oh, no no no no,” one woman said.

Gorillas can be aggressive, especially males fighting for dominance in the social group, or when threatened. They are the largest of all the great apes, with males weighing up to 400lbs in captivity.

“Wildlife care specialists successfully recalled the two gorillas out of the habitat so the dog could be removed. Recall training is a part of the regular safety procedures at the Park,” the park said in a statement sent to ABC 10News.

The dog was one of two domestic dogs that were roaming the park without an owner, according to ABC 10News. Park officials do not know how one of them made its way into the gorilla enclosure.

Desteniey Pickett, who was at the safari park that day, told CBS 8 that there were no zookeepers present when visitors first spotted the dog. Visitors started to shout the gorilla’s name, attempting to distract it from the dog.

The dog was eventually removed by the San Diego Humane Society.

“Zoo staff told us they believe the dog had wandered into the park on his own, and gotten all the way into the gorilla enclosure before he was noticed,” the San Diego Humane Society said in a statement.

“As soon as zoo staff saw the dog, they moved the gorillas out. Our three Humane Officers were able to move in and safely leash the shepherd and bring him back to San Diego Humane Society’s Escondido Campus for evaluation.

“The dog is a male shepherd, with no microchip. He will be placed on stray hold now, as we search for his owner. Animal caregivers have given the dog a shelter name of ‘Might Joe Young.’ We are so glad no one was hurt.”

While the gorillas did not harm the stray, they did chase after him and watch him intently. The gorillas at San Diego Zoo have shown signs of aggression before. In 2020, the enclosure had to be temporarily closed after one gorilla slammed another into the glass enclosure wall, smashing several layers of glass.

Gorillas in other zoos have also seriously injured humans that have accidentally fallen into the enclosure, most notably Cincinnati Zoo’s Harambe, who grabbed a 3-year-old boy and dragged him around the enclosure before being shot by a zookeeper.

Jane Goodall wrote that Harambe seemed as if he was trying to protect the child in his enclosure before he was shot.

In the Netherlands in 2007, a gorilla named Bokito jumped over a moat that separated his enclosure in Rotterdam from the public and violently attacked a woman, inflicting bone fractures as well as more than a hundred bite wounds.

Bokito may have been reacting to the woman smiling: baring one’s teeth is a signal of aggression and threat in primates. Officials said the woman had visited the gorilla several times a week and that Bokito may have “integrated” her into his group, Reuters reported at the time.

The dog being rescued by an officer from the San Diego Humane Society.