Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 12th, 2009
Mike, before the escape. Riverbanks Zoo file photo.
A gorilla escaped his enclosure Friday, June 12, 2009, at the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, in Columbia, South Carolina. The ape injured a worker before returning to his holding area on his own about five minutes later.
Zoo spokeswoman Lindsay Burke says a piece of bamboo drooped into the gorilla’s enclosure, and the animal was able to climb it and escape its cage.
The young food service worker, an employee of Aramark Corporation, was hit to the ground by the escaping gorilla. The zoo employee was treated at a hospital and released, said company spokesman Dan Smith. Aramark runs the cafeterias at the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. Smith declined to identify the worker or talk about the person’s injuries.
The zoo was packed with day care groups and visitors, who were ushered to indoor exhibits or outside the gates for about 45 minutes after the gorilla escaped.
The gorilla got out about a half-hour after the zoo’s 9 a.m. opening and returned to the gated sleeping area connected to his outdoor enclosure, which is separated from the public by different barriers in different spots, including mesh and plexiglass.
A second of three gorillas in the exhibit also went into the sleeping area when the escaped animal returned, but it took 40 minutes to coax a third male into the holding area, Burke said.
Burke said officials think that of the zoo’s three western lowland gorillas, the escapee was a 16-year-old male named Mike. Also in the exhibit are 24-year-old Chaka and 15-year-old Kimya. The all-male group was transferred from the Philadelphia Zoo on July 13, 2004.
The zoo was shut down temporary, but it didn’t stop at least one human from figuratively opening his mouth and inserting his hominoid foot.
Unfortunately, some politicians should not mix current events with politics.
Trey Walker, South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster’s advisor, posted a news update on his Facebook site about the escape. Then, a longtime South Carolina Republican activist and former State Senate candidate Rusty DePass left, at Walker’s Facebook site, this comment about the escaped gorilla: “I’m sure it’s just one of Michelle’s ancestors — probably harmless.”
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.