A 400-pound adult male gorilla escaped his cage a the Buffalo zoo – and is on the run!
The gorilla bit a female zookeeper before being tranquilized and then made a run for it. “He was out of the zoo before we could even respond,” said zookeeper Angus Johnson.
Zoo officials said Koga, a 24-year-old silverback gorilla at Buffalo Zoo, took advantage of an unlocked door in his living quarters and slipped into the space behind it, which is used by zoo personnel but closed to the public. Sources close to the zoo, say that it looked like a planned breakout.
A keeper who has cared for Koga since he arrived in 2007 was bitten on her hand and calf.
The gorilla apparently hid in a large drainpipe for a few hours, then went running through the streets of Buffalo.
After it happened, the keeper, whose name was not released, took refuge inside the habitat of a female gorilla and her newborn baby. The keeper had a good relationship with the mother who, like Koga, is a West Lowland gorilla, native to West Africa and the Congo River Basin. The female gorilla put her arm around the zookeeper – kept her calm.
Meanwhile, police sent in the SWAT team to secure the area while a veterinarian handed out handheld blow pipes to his team – in hopes of sedating Koga.
Buffalo citizens were ordered to lock their doors.
“That was the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my career,” said SWAT team captain Mark Maraschiello.
“It’s a 400 pound animal that’s capable of who knows what. He could rip your arm out of its socket,’ Maraschiello said.
The sedated gorilla was dragged back to the zoo once the drugs took hold, which was about 15 minutes after they were administered.
The keeper’s decision to lock herself inside the separate habitat likely kept her from being further harmed, according to officials at the zoo.
The Buffalo police promise an investigation into how Koga escaped and Koga will be put into solitary confinement until they finish their investigation.
The wounded zookeeper was undergoing an evaluation at a nearby hospital but her injuries were not considered serious.
Koga was born at the Bronx Zoo in New York City and transferred in 1994 to the Memphis Zoo before landing in Buffalo. He has no history of unusual aggression.
Isn’t he cute?