Gorilla escapes London Zoo enclosure: Primate sparks emergency after break out

Incident comes just months after the shooting of Harambe, a silverback gorilla at Cincinnati Zoo

Tom Embury-Dennis,May Bulman
Thursday 13 October 2016 17:59
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London Zoo gorilla returned safely after escaping enclosure

A gorilla sparked a major emergency at London Zoo after breaking out of its enclosure.

Members of the public and staff at the zoo were locked into buildings and ordered not to leave certain areas after the primate escaped.

Staff armed with tranquiliser darts roamed the zoo looking for the animal, before it was eventually recaptured.

Reports suggest the gorilla, a male silverback named Kumbuka, had been attempting to break out of the enclosure earlier the same day, "throwing" itself against the window of the enclosure.

The incident came just months after Harambe the gorilla was killed by staff at Cincinatti Zoo as it held a child who had fallen into its enclosure.

The Metropolitan Police said they received a call from the Zoo at 5.17pm. The animal was recaptured shortly before 6.30pm, when police told The Independent the “incident had been concluded”.

An employee at London Zoo said it was not the first time the gorilla had tried to escape from captivity, telling BuzzFeed News: “He’s smashed the enclosure glass a couple of times.”

One visitor at the zoo posted a photo said to be of Kumbuka, facing the window in the encolsure, and said it was taken "just two seconds before he threw himself at the window."

There have been no reports of injuries to the public, although some visitors expressed fear and concern as parts of the central London zoo was put on lock down while heavily armed police were summoned to help zoo workers hunt down the animal.

One visitor, Dr Jonathan Mall, tweeted during the incident: “Huddling in a building at the London Zoo after staff told us to get into a building quickly."

Another eyewitness, Brad Evans, told BBC Radio London he had been "locked in" before seeing police turn up "with loads of guns".

Mr Evans said: "We were having a cup of coffee in the main restaurant area when they locked us all in and said there was an incident.

"They gave us free teas and coffees and obviously we were asking what was going on and they told us that a gorilla had got out of its enclosure. As we were waiting we saw the police turning up in numbers with loads of guns."

Malcolm Fitzpatrick, curator of mammals at London Zoo, confirmed Kumbuka, whom he described as “a very popular animal”, was now back in his enclosure and “doing very well”.

Mr Fitzpatrick told the BBC: “At 17:15 our male gorilla got out of his back dens into a secure keeper area. Our staff were able to respond quickly and Kumbuka was tranquilised and returned to his dens.

"We're happy to report that he's up and grumbling, and interacting with the rest of his family in his gorilla kingdom."

The zoo worker said an investigation was ongoing, but added: ”At no time were any of our visitors in danger, the gorilla did not get out of his safe space. There were only about 100 visitors in the zoo“.

Following the incident there has been speculation that the primate made his escape in honour of Harambe, the gorilla that was shot dead in Cincinnati zoo in May, sparking a global outcry.

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