SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The San Francisco Zoo is mourning the loss of its youngest Gorilla.
Kabibe died in a tragic accident Friday after Zoo staff was carrying out its standard post-closing evening routine of moving the animals into their night quarters, when the Gorilla unexpectedly darted under a closing hydraulic door.
This accidental death is particularly difficult for San Francisco Zoo primate staff members who provided 24-hour postnatal care for Kabibe until she was 6-months old.
This type of accident is extremely rare and the Zoo wishes to assure the public that all animal care protocol at the facility is specifically designed with animal safety as the top priority.
Kabibe's name means "little lady" in Swahili. Kabibe captured the hearts of animal lovers worldwide when she was born on July 17, 2013 to parents Nneka and Oscar Jonesy.
At the age of 6 months, Kabibe was gradually introduced to the gorilla troop, beginning first with the family matriarch, Kabibe's grandmother Bawang. They both bonded instantly and had been inseparable ever since.
"Some animal deaths are more difficult to process than others, and this tragedy has struck us all in the deepest way imaginable," San Francisco Zoo Executive Director and President Tanya Peterson said. "We thank the public in advance for their patience and kindness to the gorilla family and to all Zoo staff as we mourn the loss of this special animal."
The Zoo is investigating how and why this accident happened and will review Zoo policies, procedures, and training in the days ahead to see if any changes are warranted.
During a period of mourning and adjustment for the gorilla family, the Jones Family Gorilla Preserve will remain open to the public, but may be closed periodically as the need arises.