3 gorillas briefly escape enclosure at Como Zoo


Three gorillas escaped their enclosure at St. Paul's Como Park Zoo Thursday morning, but no visitors were at risk, the zoo said.

In a news release, the zoo said at 9:50 a.m., a bachelor group of three gorillas had left their indoor enclosure through an unsecured door behind the scenes of the indoor gorilla habitat, and went down a hallway used by the zookeepers, FOX 9 added.

Two of the gorillas – Sampson and Jabir – were back in their enclosures by 10:10 a.m., while Virgil, the third gorilla, continued to explore inside the "gorilla-proof barriers" – he was back in the enclosure by 10:40 a.m., the zoo said.

While Virgil was exploring, he found the room where the zookeepers store the treats.

“He found the enrichment closet and he was playing with the boomer balls and throwing things around,” Senior zookeeper Allison Jungheim told FOX 9.

Photos of the three gorillas who escaped, according to KARE 11 on Twitter:

It's not clear how the zookeepers got the gorillas back into the enclosure. The zoo did say it has a detailed emergency response procedure which includes animal escape situations that are regularly practiced.

"The Como emergency response team moved into position to successfully mitigate the situation and at no time was the public, staff, or animals ever in danger," the release said.

The zoo said the gorillas were always secured within the building and within "gorilla-proof barriers."

The zoo doesn't open until 10 a.m., and those who were at the zoo at the time were "secured into safe areas," the zoo said.

Some zoo patrons shared the experience on Twitter:

Some organizations and Twitter users cracked jokes about the gorilla's escape:

Someone even created a Como Zoo gorilla Twitter account after Thursday's incident.

Back in 1994, a 400-pound gorilla named Casey was on the loose for about 45 minutes after escaping its exhibit by climbing over a 15-foot concrete wall and a 4-foot fence, FOX 9 reports.

The zoo has seven Western Lowland gorillas, the Pioneer Press says. The gorillas can range from 200 to 500 pounds and live up to 50 years in captivity, according to the Como Zoo website.

Gorillas have been at the zoo since the 1950s, the Pioneer Press notes. The primates recently got a new habitat, which opened at the zoo last summer. With the new Gorilla Forest is 13,000 square feet, which makes it the largest all-mesh gorilla enclosure in North America, the Star Tribune reports.

Next Up

minnesota zoo

Minnesota Zoo launches activities to get people embracing nature

The zoo is hosting a pumpkin scavenger hunt and a "Do the Zoo, Not Zoom Day."

teacher, coronavirus, covid-19, school, classroom

25 counties have COVID-19 infection rates associated with distance learning

County-level data is no longer the only source districts have to rely on to make informed decisions about which learning model to use.

Jason Lewis and Tina Smith

Election 2020 preview: Minnesota's Senate race

Incumbent Tina Smith will take on former Congressman Jason Lewis.

President Donald Trump

President Trump railing against capacity limits for Friday's Rochester rally

A contract with the city limits capacity to 250 people, but Trump says they were expecting 25,000.

st. paul shooting - oct. 30

Man injured as his gun goes off during pat-down search from St. Paul police

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the incident.

ballot voting vote

Appeals court changes rules for MN absentee ballots received after Election Day

Pending a further challenge, votes received after 8 p.m. on Election Day may not be counted.

Donald Trump

Confusion over where Trump campaign rally will be held Friday

It sounds like it'll be held at the airport in Rochester.

Screen Shot 2020-10-29 at 3.19.05 PM

This video of the Lowry Hill Tunnel walls being cleaned is oddly satisfying

The tunnel will be closed overnight Thursday for cleaning.

gray wolf

Gray wolf removed from the endangered species list

A decision on whether they can be hunted in Minnesota will come later.

covid saliva test

Minnesota opening its 7th saliva testing location in St. Paul

The tests are free and open to anyone regardless of if they have symptoms.