Although Koga, the 24-year-old male gorilla, merely slipped through an unsecured door Monday and moved from one locked area to another with no access to the public, and Zoo President Donna Fernandes stressed at a press conference after the incident that the public was never in danger, the news caused considerable excitement in the zoo, the Buffalo News reported Tuesday.
Anxious visitors were quickly escorted away from the gorilla house and the Buffalo Police Department SWAT team was called in, Fernandes said as she explained the Zoo's emergency procedures.
An unnamed zookeeper, having been scratched by Koga during the event, locked herself in a gorilla cage while the Zoo's animal-escape specialists immobilized the gorilla with a tranquilizer dart, the newspaper reported.
"In 23 years I don't think I've ever been so scared (for his team)," SWAT team commander Capt. Mark Maraschiello said. "If this thing wakes up I've got 10 people I'm responsible for."
The police officers dragged the unconscious animal back to his cage. The zookeeper was treated for minor injuries, Zoo officials said.