DANGER AT THE ZOO: Weapons Response Teams

Jurassic Park - Universal Pictures

Last Saturday, Cincinnati Zoo officials shot and killed a 17 year-old western lowland gorilla after it threatened a toddler who had fallen into the moat surrounding the exhibit (the child was later released from the hospital basically unharmed). Aside from the sensationalism brought on by various media reports, I was curious about the policies and procedures in place to handle dangerous animal situations at zoos and animal parks around the world. Thankfully, zoos accredited by organizations like the Association of Zoos and Aquariums have ‘Weapons Teams’ trained to use deadly force in the event of an animal escape or to prevent death or serious harm.


Would you take this shot?

Although the procedures followed by the ‘weapons teams’ are standardized, the firearms used appear to be chosen by the individual zoos and/or the leader of each team. Open source information points to a combination of 12 gauge shotguns and high-powered rifles being on hand at most major zoos.

From a story in the St Petersburg Times: http://www.sptimes.com/2006/08/24/Tampabay/Zookeeper_likely_to_f.shtml

The team armed themselves with four guns from a locked cabinet kept in the general curator’s office. Salisbury carried a 12-gauge shotgun. The remaining staff carried two .375 rifles and a 30.06 rifle.

Zoo employees also train and qualify with local and state law enforcement agencies.

From a story in the Pittsburgh Tribune (Trib LIVE): http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/7941546-74/zoo-police-animal

Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Stephen A. Bucar said police officers and zoo workers went through training immediately after the incident Nov. 4, 2012, when 2-year-old Maddox Derkosh was killed. Bucar said police don’t carry weaponry needed to bring down a large animal in the event of a similar incident. They don’t know enough about animal behavior to shoot an animal, he said.

Various standardized practices from around the world:

North Carolina Zoo (From the American Association of Zookeepers);

Weapons Team Management

  • Identify team members (need enough to always have two on duty at any time)
  • Basic safety and marksmanship training with local law enforcement
  • Weapons selection and maintenance
  • Clearly defined eligibility and qualification requirements
  • Range qualification at least twice per year
  • Clearly defined weapons discharge criteria
  • Identified program leader
  • Range leader qualifications and training

Jungle Cat World, Ontario, Canada

Radio Codes and Message Format

  • Code Red: Dangerous animal escape (eg- mature lion, tiger, etc.)
  • Code Blue: Hazardous animal escape (eg- bobcat, spider monkey, etc.)
  • Code Yellow: Non threat animal escape (eg- kangaroo, deer, etc.)
  • Code Green: Animal escape drill
  • All Clear: Self-explanatory (can only be issued by the Senior Keeper or Management)

The Shooter

Only the Director or Emergency Coordinator can issue the command to kill an escaped animal. The
reason to do so are as follows:

  1. Human injury or loss of life
  2. Threat of human injury or loss of life
  3. Animal has breached the parameter fence surrounding the zoo
  4. Only individuals who have been trained and are authorized/licensed to use firearms may do so.
    They will have the keys to the locked gun cabinet.
  5. Always make sure that firearms are on safety and handled with extreme caution. The use of a killing
    weapon must always be tempered by the potential to endanger human life.
  6. Whenever possible, the shooter should stay in a vehicle when approaching the animal.
  7. Never run after the animal. It’s certain that you can’t outrun it. You will be out of breath, which will
    not allow you to have a steady hand.
  8. Make sure you have a good clean shot. Be aware of what is in front and behind your target.
  9. If you must shoot, shoot to kill. If you do not feel you are capable of doing this, relinquish the
    responsibility to another qualified shooter (if one is available)

British and Irish Association of Zoos

Training/ Continued Development:

It is absolutely crucial that staff licensed to use firearms undergo sufficient initial training to ensure that they are completely familiar with the weapons they are likely to use, the legislation governing the acquisition use and storage of these weapons and that they have a comprehensive understanding of the risks of using these firearms in a built up environment and or public place. Therefore this initial training must include the elements detailed below and competency against each of these criteria must be measured:

  • Rifle/ Shotgun Safety
  • Law Relating to Firearms
  • Rifle/ Shotgun Performance
  • Practical Safety/ Weapon Handling
  • Shot placement
  • Live fire qualification
  • Communications

Bob Chastain, President of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Often, people are surprised by the fact that the Zoo has a firearms team. As an accredited zoo, and because of our moral obligation, we are required to have a plan in place and the skills necessary to contain a dangerous animal that has escaped. Our firearms team is made up of Zoo staff from a variety of departments and the team trains year-round in the National Forest outside of Woodland Park and at other gun ranges. Each member is required to pass a yearly qualification and all are skilled at responding to dangerous situations.

From Fowler’s Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine Current Therapy, Volume 7 – by Eric Miller and Murray E. Fowler:


If you haven’t seen the Cincinnati video, here it is (disturbing, but not graphic):

My thoughts:

  • It’s too early to place any blame, but it is safe to say that the boy was too close to the edge of the gorilla environment.
  • I wouldn’t be filming this interaction. I would hope that I would be either shooting or jumping into the moat.

What do you think? Do you pack enough gun to put down a 450 pound gorilla? Even if you do, are you trained, skilled and confident enough to take the shot?


LE – Science – OSINT.
On a mission to make all of my guns as quiet as possible.
Twitter: @gunboxready
Instagram: @tfb_pete


  • sean

    If the Ape escaped shoot him down…if someone deliberately goes into a enclosed environment with a class 1 mammal…let it be Darwin’s law

    • KestrelBike

      It’s too easy to say this. If it was my kid, I’d beat the s*** out of myself for obviously not raising him/her to be smart enough not to end up in the enclosure… AFTER I jumped into the enclosure to try to get my kid out.

      If it was my kid but my brother or dad or other person that I entrusted my kid’s safety to was there, I’d expect him to go in after the kid, too. A stranger? Not so much.

      If the kid was a stranger to me, then I wouldn’t go in after him. Sorry, I have my own responsibilities. This is different than some badguy with a weapon threatening people.

    • TVOrZ6dw

      What? It was ‘Darwin’s law’ as you say- The naked apes with guns won, and the kid will get to grow up.
      This whole thing is tragic, and will happen in life where there are not guarantees.

      • sean

        guns used to be a equalizer for the little guy against repression, but now its a excuse to raise stupid offspring and shallow the over all gene pool…so its working against Darwin’s Law

    • Tassiebush

      that’s unreasonable. He is a kid! Unless you’re Kim Jong Un you probably have made mistakes

  • Jack Morris

    I’m glad they have standards in place for this type of incident, however it really sucks that it’s necessary 🙁

  • Giolli Joker

    “Do you pack enough gun to put down a 450 pound gorilla? Even if you do,
    are you trained, skilled and confident enough to take the shot?”
    Whatever the outcome, unless you’re actually part of the Weapons Team, you would end up in a courtroom… It does not matter how trained, skilled and confident you think you are, in that situation there should be people in charge of taking the right action.
    In the wild it would be another story.

    I wonder if a situation like this, potentially VERY dangerous but with no clear immediate threat, could be solved with tranquilizing darts. Is their effect too slow?

    I’m quite surprised that kangaroos and deer are considered non threat in the Code list: the bigger kangaroos species are powerful animals with wicked hind legs and males are known to be aggressive; while any deer running scared among people could surely do some damage, not to mention the risks that a big buck poses.

    • Brick

      There have been a number of zookeepers/animal workers that have said that the tranqs may have been too slow and may have enraged the animal.

    • Pete M

      Code Red animals are both powerful and aggressive. Others may be powerful, but prefer to run and hide.

      Tough situation.

    • Pete M

      If it’s your kid, do you take the shot?

      • Giolli Joker

        In short: HELL NO!

        In details, I’ll reply once out of office. 🙂

        • Sig Saeur Freud

          Typical lib response….I’ll say it since no one else will. You are a coward. You are subconsciously making excuses to justify your cowardice. Your the kind of fool who would let someone rape your wife/daughter because your waiting the cops.

          • Joel

            Typical right wing conservative response, name calling like a little girl and labeling anyone whose opinion differs from his as a typical lib. OK Rambo, now that you’ve pounded your chest gorilla style and declared your manliness and proclaimed someone you’ve never met to be a coward please enlighten us. What caliber of hunting rifle would you normally be carrying at the zoo? Utilizing your extreme operator Rambo-like skills, operating operationally, how would you have approached the gorilla without further alarming it and further endangering the child? Enlighten us with your operational expertise and extreme manliness.

          • Giolli Joker

            You are far from the truth, but if it help boost your ego, suit yourself.

        • Pete M

          Sometimes making the wrong decision is better than making no decision at all.

          • Giolli Joker

            Sometimes it could surely be.
            If your wrong decision has the death of your child as outcome, it’s definitely not one of those times.

      • Nicks87

        Absolutely, I’m jumping the fence with my gun drawn and closing the distance slowly and calmly and the split second that the gorilla makes an aggressive movement or once I have a clear shot, I’m taking it. I’m not going to stand there and wait for some response team while my kid gets ripped apart. F*** the legal consequences.

        • Joel

          Right because you’re going to shoot this 450lb. gorilla that typically has about 10 times the strength of the average human male with whatever handgun you happen to be carrying. Causing him to put on a typical gorilla intimidation display which consists of flinging an object about violently, in this case your child, likely causing the child’s death. Pure genius..

    • Lysenko

      Yep, much too slow in real life. Most aim for dropping the target within 15-30 minutes, and a small animal with a full dose might go in 5-10. Intra-muscular vs. intravenous, and anything potent and fast-acting enough to work quickly is potent and fast-acting enough to kill your target dead anyway if you misjudge the dosage….Which is pretty much guaranteed when you can’t weigh the ‘patient’ and calculate the precise dosage or guarantee full delivery.

      Even with the relatively slow-acting stuff that’s used, you generally have to rush in and provide antagonists and/or life support to keep the target from dying anyway!

      So, in short, When you absolutely positively need to put someone or something down RIGHT NOW, you absolutely positively need a firearm. No ifs, ands, buts, or possible substitutes.

      • Sulaco

        Ya read somewhere that even “experts” in the field using tranks have about 50% of animals die in the end…

      • Phil Hsueh

        I think that the problem is the perception of tranqs by the public thanks to Hollywood where they always show people, and sometimes even animals, getting hit by tranqs and they drop instantly or within a few seconds after getting all woozy. And this is without ever showing the shooter measuring the dosage, just shooting a pre-filled dart as if weight and body mass are no concern.

        • MrDakka

          I’d guess alot of those people getting shot with tranqs in movies aren’t ever waking up

  • Edeco

    As a bystander I wouldn’t try to shoot the gorilla. Not my zoo not my monkey. Literally and figuratively.

    If the child were one if my peeps I might try entering the enclosure, but I’m not naive about the outcome; objectively it would be foolish, the response team would rightly be angry.

    • Evan

      Gorillas are great apes, not monkeys.

  • Twilight sparkle

    The parents should serve the maximum jail time and pay the maximum fee there is for killing a western lowland gorilla.

    • Paul O.

      Nah, I value human life much more highly than any animal life. This was an unfortunate situation. The parents are just lucky to get their child back alive.

      • Twilight sparkle

        I value an endangered animal more than others, and I value stupid people less than others. The kid is fine, he’s young and not supposed to be that intelligent but the mother that did this deserves to face the full force of the law.

        If you saw any of the comments she made after the fact you’d realise she doesn’t deserve to get her child back, I’d much rather see the kid adopted to a better family but that’s not my choice to make.

        • Jerry Attrick

          You don’t have kids do you?

          • Twilight sparkle

            Wether I do or don’t doesn’t keep me from being able to recognise bad parenting.

          • Jerry Attrick

            Thank you for that confirmation.

          • Twilight sparkle

            Claiming anything on the internet is pointless

          • Jerry

            And so was your post on this subject.

          • Twilight sparkle

            Judging by the amount of upvotes It looks like a lot of people agree with me… I’ve seen this case on different news sources and eyewitness claim there’s at least some neglect by the mother here. If you think it’s fine for a parent to cause the death of an endangered animal then that’s your opinion, but you won’t sway me…

        • Paul O.

          I understand your points. I believe the law values all people equally, as in no one has more or less value due to their perceived intelligence. This is a Judeo-Christian concept upon which much Western law is based. After all, I wouldn’t want to be less valued by the law due to my perceived intelligence than you probably would.

    • MiKlei

      I agree with you. It’s a basic principle, that parents are fully responsible for what their children do, especially when they are still very young. And in my opinion that responsibility never vanquishes completely, because in a more or less direct way, it is due to a lack of good upbringing, if your kids get on the wrong track.

  • The should have lopped the head off the parent and thrown it in the enclosure as a distraction device while they retrieved the kid.

    I agree with the zoo worker decision but this should never have been an issue if the parent was not a Darwin candidate.

    • Tom

      I think in fairness to the parent its not an unreasonable assumption that animal enclosures are secure and the idea that their child could gain access would have been the last thing on their mind. Whilst this sort of thing used to happen a lot its a been a long time AFAIK since it last happened which would suggest most Zoos have secured the animal enclosures.

    • ozzallos .

      Oversimplified kneejerk reaction.

      -Witnesses. NOBODY noticed the child in the act? I mean, forget the parents for a moment. Sure, they bare responsibility but how did nobody notice this breach, let alone step in to stop it? Especially that last part.

      -Security. Tying into the above point, the child either had a lot of time to exploit the breach or it was so easy that there was little opportunity to stop him. Culpability could very well fall upon the zoo here.

      -Kids.You must not have one. They can be off life a shot the moment you get distracted by any number of mundane events. Where’s my wallet? Betty called, she was in an accident. etc etc. If the breach was easily exploited, kids are kids no matter how much I want to fault the parents.

      Still the right decision by the zoo once it went down. Watching the uncut video of the gorilla dragging the kid around like a rag doll at a sprint should be enough for anybody.

      • Too be clear, my lopping off the parent’s head comment was in jest which I thought would be obvious.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    WTF were this kids parents thinking?

    If you take your kids close to a deadly animal you better damned sure keep an eye on them.


    • Bill

      It’s a little different, going to a zoo where there is a reasonable expectation of security, versus the knucklehead parents who take their kids to Yellowstone and want a picture of them petting the nice bison or bear…

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        True, but kids are sneaky little bastards. You cant take your eyes off them.

        • Tassiebush

          I think they were probably looking at one of their other kids plus there was this interesting gorilla to look at.

        • Machinegunnertim

          Yep, I have 2 year old twins and if you have to go out to do something it can be hard to accomplish whatever that is and watch both at the same time. I tell my wife, “If you can’t watch both then don’t go out at all until myself or someone else goes too” whatever it is isn’t worth losing a child.

      • Evan

        I heard a story about a couple of dopes in the Smokeys smearing honey on their kids to try and get a picture of a bear licking the honey off. They were caught by a park ranger or something before it all ended in tears. It’s almost a shame, if you’re dumb enough to smear your kids with honey and feed them to bears because you think it will be “cute”, you probably should have your line ended so as not to pollute the rest of the gene pool.

  • Captain Obvious

    Humans are stupid. They make mistakes and use bad judgement some times. Of course the parents will probably sue the zoo for not keeping their baby out of the gorilla habitat. The zoo “knew or should have known” that a child could get in there thus endangering themselves. Kind of known as an attractive hazard in the premises liability world. Expect tall fences or glass partitions to go up in the near future.

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      The gorillas family is suing the zoo.

      • Pete M

        THAT made me LOL

      • Tassiebush

        Man I’d be in strife if animal families could sue!

  • Bill

    Excellent points.

  • Pete M


  • No double rifles, monacles, or pith helmets? Talk about savages!

    • MisterTheory


  • Bill

    Bad parents don’t take their kid to the zoo. Anyone who doesn’t know that a 3 year old domestic yard ape can escape and E&E/Flee & Elude his parents in nanoseconds hasn’t ever bred. I’m convinced that like cats they can get through any hole the size of their head. I spent the largest chunk of my detective career handling crimes against kids and wouldn’t even let this hit my desk; anyone who thinks this was child neglect hasn’t seen the real thing.

    I’ve never heard of gorillas being deliberately aggressive, but chimpanzees are supposed to be absolutely vicious when they decide to be.

    I was stunned to learn that when a whackjob in Muskingum County Ohio let loose his collection of exotic animals, including a number of large cats, LEOs were able to kill them with standard ARs and shotguns. Having seen a gorilla skull and the amount of bone that makes it up, I’d be REALLY leery of going all John Wayne with my off-duty 9mm or .45 ACP.

    I collect zoos and visit every one I can when traveling. I conned a keeper at a major metropolitan zoo into admitting that the locked and obviously armored cabinets near their big cat exhibits contained firearms, but this person wasn’t a shooter and didn’t know the caliber/type.

    • Moi Même

      What???? I shouldn’t rely on an “off-duty 9mm or .45 ACP” to protect myself against a 450 lb Silverback gorilla? Now I have another reason to quit walking around my gated (and guarded!!) community. As it is, we’ve been warned about the “large” bobcat that has returned to the community. Apparently, it was born here and it is believed that it wants to visit the backyard where it allegedly was born. We’ve also been told that little dogs and cats are in danger, while we humane beans are not so much at risk. Now, i do carry my Sig 227 TacOps with 14 rounds of .45 cal and an extra mag or two plus a light and small can of pepper spray when I step outside for an exercise stroll. I assume that a bobcat is fast and I know it likes to attack from behind, but I’ve always assumed that a few rounds of .45 cal hollow point (Barnes, Magtech, Critical Duty and the new Sig ammo) would do the job to protect myself from four-legged or even two-legged predators. I hope my confidence is not misplaced. Bill – any data on lack of effectiveness of .45 cal against assorted wild animals?

      • Bill

        I’ve never, ever heard of a bobcat bothering people, or even domestic animals, they are very shy, but i’ve also watched trail cam footage of one backing off a couple coyotes…

        I don’t have a lot of faith in anything stopping the Native Gap-Toothed Redneck MethHead, let alone a 450 lb ape. Except for Clyde the Orangutang from those Clint Eastwood movies who knew he was supposed to fall down when shot.

        • Phil Hsueh

          I agree, I don’t think that people, except for maybe babies and small children are under any threat from a bobcat, small animals maybe, but not humans. Coyotes and mountain lions, on the other hand, they’re known to tackle larger prey and mountain lions will tackle medium sized dogs and small children, but at the same time, they’re also kind of shy and are fairly easily scared away by the usual shouting and waving of arms in the air. The important things with these predators is to turn and run away, that tends to trigger their chase/hunting instinct and they’ll almost certainly chase after you if you turned and ran from them.

          • Evan

            I think you mean NOT to turn and run away. I encountered a cougar while hunting deer once, I fired my rifle in a safe direction, made as big a racket as I could, and returned to my cabin, keeping an eye out for the cougar and a round in the chamber.

  • Tassiebush

    Shame the gorilla had to die but the kid could have been killed or maimed in a moment with any other action. They tried to resolve it otherwise then had to act.
    Stuff happens! Especially with kids. Some kids are just naturally more slippery than others. Who here can’t describe a time they pulled a swifty on their parents or other adults as a kid or a time when their kids pulled one on them? I remember climbing out of my cot. Up until that point my parents would have assumed it contained me. The zoo had decades of precedent of no one getting in there and then this. Kids can be very sneaky and surprise us with what they can achieve. They’ll probably kid safe this exhibit and a bunch of other’s globally a lot better and then some time in the in the future a parkour enthusiast suffering from psychosis will vault over some carefully constructed barrier to further condemnation.
    At least this young boy has a family that takes him to the zoo. I think there’s obviously scope to work out how this can be prevented in future but I’m not into blaming in this case.
    Attitude to risk changes over time. We often only realize we’ve shifted our expectations when something happens. I remember as a kid when a circus visited the elephants were often just behind a bit of electric fence.
    As for jungle cat world, they might need to upgrade their kangaroo risk level to code blue

    • Bill

      “Attitude to risk changes over time.”

      Truer words…we have become so risk-averse, and, at least in the U.S. so litigious that pretty soon we’ll have to put on a bubble-wrap suit and parachute to ride a rollercoaster. And our constant need to find fault in every little twist of fate is tiresome. As the Buddha said, life is suffering.

      Ringling Brothers retired their circus elephants a couple weeks ago.

      • Tassiebush

        Australia is pretty bad that way too. I don’t think the pay outs are as huge as the US but it’s the same problem basically. I think our litigious nature and the huge volume of paperwork involved just in case something happens is one of the things really pulling the western world down. A huge amount of case notes and reports are written in various professions just in case something happens. It is a lot of unproductive effort.
        I think New Zealand did some sort of compulsory insurance scheme/levy focused on meeting the support needs of the injured party and removing the suing/find fault process. Not sure how it has worked out but it seems a worthwhile experiment given how much it frees them up to live life.

        • Random Disabled Person

          A large portion of the problem is it takes lawsuits for companies to admit fault and to fix the problem. With medical care being extremely financially burdensome ( even with insurance in the USA) they need to come up with money to cover care. So the injured has a chance at having a normal life(able to work and earning a living with a decent to good quality of life) and not being a crippled and thous undesirable in the world of employment except for demeaning and low paying jobs.

          If healthcare was a right and not something that had to be endured by ether party has a cost directly as the payee, a lot of lawsuits would not happen over personal injury.

          As companies and people have become lower in accountability and “risk management” teaches them to lie and deny responsibility the courts will have lawsuits.

          Despite the vey few big payouts people moan about(most don’t know the real details and or the appeals that changed the amounts), they are not the normal reality. More cases get settled out of court for what should have be done , with lawyers making money at the expense of human misery.

          Now add in to that the biasedness against injured workers/accident victims ect. in the medical care community and you have system where proper care is withheld and delayed making injury’s damage far worse and more expensive to correct and repair/restore the human body.

          Slow walking a claim is known dirty tactic in hopes that people will get frustrated and give up and/or die which limits them from having to pay for the expensive medical care. There are numerous t6ricks to break down the injured party by the other side which isn’t under stress for loosing their home, car, ect…..There is reason people development mental conditions from this process. divorces with marriages torn apart from the stress and the suicides from people who just have had it with life of pain and no justice. The supposedly support safety net systems have a double digit spike with suicides when they involve themselves in someone life. Yet people believe the recipients are getting massive amounts of money when they get barely enough to live off of and often have to to move into the inter city ghetto war zones.
          Which all the concealed carriers have no need for weapon compared to the people who live in the inner city war zones, your middle class neighborhood is such a low risk factor…… Yet the group that most needs the right to concealed carry and firearms for protection are often denied and/or blocked by costs.

          No who is injured and has to sue comes out a winner. Pretty musch everyone would give back the money to go back in time and avoid what they went through. A divorce is short term court case in comparison and almost everyone knows someone who has been through it. The tolls it took on them personally, mentally, physically and financially. Now imagine your life and ability to function hangs in the balance not just if you get to keep a percentage of your stuff. Not being able to pick up and hold your kids from pain every again verses only getting to hold them every other weekend….

          No safety system is 100% because we are always on educational curve, what we learn from freak random events will shape the safety to higher standards hopefully for the next time . Hopefully in place before it is needed. Although until the next time there is no real world testing….Only then do we know if the solutions applied worked like hoped/designed.

          No system can beat the craftiness of convicts or children. Both are cunning in ways that only the most inventive, paranoid, and/or daily exposed to environmental factors person might out think them in time . Which sadly the bean counters often silence and block their improvements requests. The old “always time and money afterward to fix it but never before” policy. never money and time to do it right the first time but somehow they always find it for second time with a tighter deadline.

          In the end I hope people realize the zoo keepers did what they had too, and respect that they feel a sense of loos for the gorilla they were responsible for and interacted with forming a bond. They have a difficult emotional and business world fallout to deal with. Hunting is one thing, shooting an animal in your sanctuary is another. So porayers and /or whatever your beliefs are to the people involved for healing in the following dark days.

          • Tassiebush

            fair point about payment sizes and the following poverty after a successful case. I think too the US cases i would hear about here would be those sensational enough to stick out. The whole no win no fee but extensive fees if you win situation means a lot of succesful litigants probably don’t see their needs met (that’s what I heard anyhow.). I actually ponder how the heck private health insurance or suing can ever be as cost effective as directly funding support needs.

  • Blackhawk

    10 points to the first person to conceal carry a .375H&H. Can’t wait to see the first of the dangerous game sub-compact handguns later this year.

  • retfed

    A friend of mine, now deceased, used to volunteer at his local rifle range. Several times a year, employees from the local zoo came in to qualify on .458 Winchester Magnums and .375 H&Hs. My friend said he asked them, “Why do you qualify with elephant guns?” They looked at him like he had two heads and said, “Elephants.” (Also rhinos and hippos.) If Jumbo gets loose and starts stomping the paying customers, the zoo has rifles stashed in various secure locations to stop him.
    I’d never thought about it before, but I guess it’s a common thing. (This wasn’t in Cincinnati.)

  • Andrew Dubya

    I think I found my dream job.

  • Tassiebush

    This happened to me when I was a kid, except it was a bunch of bonobos and I really don’t want to talk about what happened!…

  • Bob

    Jumping in with a gorilla is about the same as a little old lady with osteoporosis and a cane hopping in the ring with a UFC heavyweight. If he wants you in pieces, you will be in pieces…

    • Pete M

      Agreed, but if that is what it takes to have my kid escape, so be it.

      • Bob

        I’ve been seeing people on Facebook and such whom seem to think that their overweight out of shape self could somehow drop ten-twelve feet without breaking something and then wrestle a four hundred pound animal into submission… So, yeah.

        • Bob

          To clarify, I don’t know you and am not saying anything about you, but some people seem to think they’re Tarzan or something.

          • Pete M

            Agreed. And don’t worry, I’m under no illusion that I could take on a spider monkey let alone a gorilla. I’d be a play toy while the kid hopefully is rescued.

          • Tassiebush

            As we gather today to celebrate the life of Pete we must celebrate his selfless bravery in those last minutes. His last words were “Thankyou for the lipstick miss. I know it’s a rather large surface area and you won’t want it back. Now if you can just mind my clothes I think I might have just enough body hair to carry this off. I hope i can out run him!? Anything to give that kid a chance!”

          • forrest1985

            Considering the drop, i think most wannabe heroes would have snapped their legs or landed face down in the water and drowned, either that or been gorilla-chow

      • Matt

        well, not really, the Gorilla reaction could be the opposite and instead of attacking you he could attack the kid.

  • The_Champ

    Lots of good points made.

    Sometimes things go wrong, and sometimes people screw up.
    It seems human nature that people want to feel superior by coming in and quarter backing events like this after the fact.

    • Mystick

      That becomes a problem when people start using those incidents for political purposes.

  • PersonCommenting

    Just a lot of assuming going on. We dont know exactly what happened. Its easy to judge when you arent there. Yes the Zoo had to kill the gorilla, I dont think anyone is saying any differently no matter what side of this you fall on. Just a bad situation and an example of how stuff goes wrong. This sort of thing will probably make anyone think twice before going into a zoo or any type of place where there is a slim chance for something big to go wrong. We rely on the establishment to keep us safe but sometimes freak accidents occur. On one hand I think the enclosure should be child proof for this day and age, heck we aint living in the 60s anymore… That being said this wouldnt happen with one of my kids. They know better not to run off. Whos fault is it? Hard to say, sometimes crap happens.

  • RICH

    ……And where were the so called ‘parents’ when their 4 year old managed to go ‘swimming’ in the gorilla moat ? ? ? I think the parents should be held accountable for the death of Harambe. I have always ‘watched’ my children and I think that all responsible parents should do the same…….. ! ! ! !

    • forrest1985

      My point exactly! Even as a relatively new parent myself, common sense states dont let ur child climb the fence to an animal enclosure! Poor parenting killed this gorilla not the zoo!

      • HAHAhahaha

        Homeowners have been sued successfully because a neighbor kid climbed their fence and drowned in their pool. If a toddler can get in, the “enclosure” is not secure. And you, as an admittedly new parent, do not have enough experience to call it poor parenting. Wait until your child gets hurt or in trouble, remember there should be no excuses, other than your poor parenting. And before you get all butthurt, realize I am going by your logic.

        • forrest1985

          Hahahaha yeah “butt hurt” nice one! okay lets try a different tact here, just for you. The barrier was over a metre high so would have taken some climbing for a three year old to scale? I don’t know about you but i tend to stop my child climbing fences, so as to stop them getting hurt. If you allow your child to climb a fence that leads to a sizeable drop and gorilla enclosure then sorry thats not the zoo’s fault. Should the fence be higher than 1.5m? I’d say yes as clearly the zoo was at fault in your eyes.

          • forrest1985

            Also by your logic homeowners shouldn’t have pools!

  • Edeco

    I’d have leapt the barrier, wrestled the gorilla down, and probably had my way with it.*

    *paraphrased from Jackass.

    • TVOrZ6dw

      Can’t wait for the video of you doing this. I suspect the ending might be different than you imagine. 🙂

  • RealitiCzech

    I worked for the zoo for a few months after my mall had to let the QRF go due to the recession. The weapons issued vary considerably from place to place. I was stationed at one place that issued SMLEs with Pakistani ammo that failed to fire 3 out of 4 times (and had hangfires half the time it did work). Do you know how tough it is to kill a rabid rhino with a bayonet? It’s a pain.

    • Pete M


      • RealitiCzech

        I even have the walk on the wall boots from my time studying ninjitsu.

    • Tassiebush

      haha that would make for a diabolical Mad Minute enhanced challenge! 1 minute to fire as many shots as possible with that failure rate.

    • Gecko9mm

      Your mall too? Luckily our mall QRF force was spared but training has been cut back. We only shoot quals three times a week and ammo is limited to 2,000 per session. There’s talk of going to duty ammo and practice ammo, but right now we still burn duty ammo. Tough times for retail establishments but it’s good to still be the thin line between humanity and everything else.

      • RealitiCzech

        Three days a week is fine for newbies, you don’t want them to overtrain and learn bad habits. Professionals should shoot 2-3 times per day – morning warm-up, midday exercises, end of day night shoot. You slack off on those, you lose skills. You lose skills, you lose people. Hopefully you can get them to see the light. Keep fighting the good fight!

  • Giolli Joker

    I love this video, the gorilla playing a no-look prank and the reaction on the face of the ranger are priceless.

    • Bob

      Yeah, when I saw the title I expected something violent and the gorilla is just playing.

  • Friend of Tibet

    Standard Zoo Emergency Response Team loadout for T-REX on loose:

  • 6.5x55Swedish

    The gorillas life is worth more than that of a humans. They should have waited it out and accepted that the kid might die.

    • Tassiebush

      I disagree with your hierachy of value there but if we put that aside and assume the conservation value of this animal was so high that it became paramount it still isn’t a high value individual in that species. As we know species with harems result in surplus males so there is substantially less biological value in any given male gorilla compared to a female gorilla.

  • DetroitMan

    Excellent points. According to a story I read, the mother was distracted by…

    …watching her other children. So she was doing exactly what all the Internet screamers say she should have been doing. Unfortunately she did not happen to be watching the right child at the right time. As a parent, I figure this could happen to any of us. The whole situation was extremely unfortunate, but we should not sit in judgement of the mother. And for that matter, what was everyone else at the location doing besides filming the unfolding tragedy? If you see somebody’s child entering a dangerous area, your first response should not be to pull out your cell phone and start filming.

    • Madcap_Magician

      Apparently all the other people were screaming, pointing, and swarming around, which apparently stressed out the gorilla even MORE and probably contributed to or even caused the resulting unfortunate tragedy.

  • Evan

    When I was a kid, my mom took me and my brother and a couple friends of ours to the Bronx Zoo, and this idiot friend of my brother’s attempted to climb into the polar bear enclosure. He was about halfway in when my mom caught him, and had he not been caught, he would have successfully gotten in. Kids do dumb things. As a wildlife enthusiast with no personal connection to this case, it kinda sucks that they shot the gorilla, but from a realistic perspective, it doesn’t seem like they had much of a choice.

  • cwolf

    Agree with RocketScience. As best I can figure out, the video only showed the first half of the incident. Even dragging the kid through the water is risky; apparently humans don’t breathe well underwater.

    All you have to do is visit a zoo, or a place like Yellowstone, to see adults doing crazy things. Sticking their hand in the lion’s cage. Trying to feed a wild animal out of their hand. Trying to take a selfie with a bison, bear, or elk. My rule is if it has horns/large canines/claws, they are there for a reason.

    Therefore, the prudent zoo has to design against human stupidity. Many people have no experiences with wild animals aside from TV.

    The TV footage showed an open railed fence with bushes between the public and the exhibit. The next day the zoo added a mesh fence to the railings.

    We all like to think we might do something in any given situation. I always tell friends to design things to work at 3 am when you’ve just woken up (you know, that time when you can’t turn off the alarm clock and throw it across the room).

    There is that famous story about a police officer who was very successful in shooting competitions, shooting tens of thousands of rounds/year, who strongly advocated counting your rounds as you shoot so you could optimize re-loads. Then he had his first real world shooting incident on the job. He admitted that he only knew he was out when the gun was empty.

    Given other zoo incidents, your likeliest successful weapon with the gorilla would be a big red ball.

    Otherwise, all the armchair experts with solutions (dart guns, stun guns, nets, KY jelly) should go to Africa and lead by example. The reality is even a large caliber rifle shot is risky. Any hunter knows even a heart shot animal can run 100 yards. Or read the Miami shoot-out analysis.

    Same for parenting. Watch the kid every second. Put the kid on a leash. Sigh.

  • CJR

    Wish I could give you more upvotes.