Five minutes of freedom was enough for a gorilla who escaped briefly Friday morning from his gated sleeping area at the Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens in Columbia before returning to his exhibit area. In his short flirtation with freedom, the gorilla did manage an encounter with a food service employee which he shoved to the ground. Riverbanks Zoo Executive Director Satch Krantz says the gorilla managed to escape his home by using a piece of bamboo to scale a ten foot wall.
“He was out of his exhibit and on the public sidewalk for approximately five minutes before he jumped back into the exhibit. However during that five minute period he did encounter one of our employees and pushed him to the ground. The young man was taken to the hospital and released with some cuts and bruises and is now at home.”
The unidentified man reportedly rolled into a ball after being knocked down and the gorilla then left him alone. The gorilla escaped at about 9:25 Friday morning. the zoo was locked down for about 45 minutes. Visitors were ushered to enclosed areas.
Krantz says the zoo has three male gorillas in its exhibit and the one that got out is still in question. “To the lay person you can hardly tell them apart so until we get all the details were not 100 percent sure. We think we know which one it is and I will answer the question this way, if it is the gorilla we think got out he weighs about 390 pounds and is about four to five feet tall.”
“Krantz says gorillas are usually very docile creatures. “They’re extremely strong animals, but they are also extremely non-aggressive animals. of all of the dangers animals or potentially dangers animals we have that’s probably one that would be prone to actually attack and hurt someone.”