Baby gorilla's death is latest in string of incidents at SF Zoo

Byby Sergio Quintana KGO logo
Sunday, November 9, 2014
Baby gorilla's death is latest in string of incidents at SF Zoo
The death of a baby gorilla that was crushed by a closing hydraulic door is just the latest in a string of incidents at the San Francisco Zoo.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- An accident at the San Francisco Zoo has claimed the life of its youngest gorilla. Kabibe was barely more than a year old. She died Friday as zoo staff put the animals away for the night.

For some families, the gorillas were the first animals they wanted to see at the zoo, but didn't get to.

"Annabel, my daughter, was all excited about seeing the gorillas and we didn't see any," said zoo visitor Elizabeth Hackett.

As Kabibe was being put into her sleeping area, zoo officials say the young gorilla darted out, was crushed by a closing hydraulic door, and was killed.

Kabibe had been one of the zoo's stars, and was a rare example of a birth in captivity.

This summer, the zoo even celebrated her first birthday by treating the whole gorilla preserve to fruits and other goodies.

VIDEO: 1-year-old gorilla celebrates birthday at SF Zoo

This is the latest in a string of incidents involving San Francisco Zoo animals.

In Dec. 2011, a squirrel monkey named Banana Sam went missing. A zoo spokesman says someone broke into his enclosure and took him, but he was returned a couple days later. Banana Sam died last year from heart disease complications.

And in 2007, a Siberian tiger named Tatiana escaped her enclosure. The big cat killed one spectator and injured two others.

Zoo officials would not speak publicly about the incident. But in a statement said: "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.

Just before closing time, zoo visitors like Timothy Smith said they were able to see the gorillas.

Smith: "The gorilla habitat was open."

Quintana: "They were in there?"

Smith: "They were doing their thing, doing gorilla stuff."

But they said no signs were up mentioning what happened.

Zoo administrators say they're investigating exactly how this happened.