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WATCH: Stray dog in a gorilla enclosure sparks a zoo emergency

dog in a gorilla enclosure
(Image credit: YouTube)

Shock footage has emerged of a stray dog in a gorilla enclosure of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Filmed by visitors, videos show an 18-month-old male shepherd being chased by two great apes as worried bystanders urge the pooch to try and find a way out.

The incident, which took place on Sunday afternoon, also included a stand-off between the animals with one gorilla in particular, Frank, showing a keen interest in the intruder.

“They just started chasing after him and that was pretty nerve-wracking,” eye-witness Robert Robles told CBS 8 (opens in new tab). The footage captured the screams of visitors as the dog ran for his life.

Zoo staff acted swiftly after being alerted to the incident, calling the two gorillas inside the enclosure so that they could enter the area and safely remove the dog. 

They feared the pooch – named Mighty Joe Young by the San Diego Humane Society – could have been harmed by the silverback gorillas which can be aggressive when threatened. He has, however, recovered from his ordeal.

Silverback gorillas are strong and experienced older males, weighing up to 400lbs in captivity and they are so-called because they develop gray-white hair on their shoulders and backs. 

Although one of the rescuers, Samantha Clark, says the gorillas were likely trying to scare the dog away, there was a chance that the situation could have turned ugly.

The dog was one of two strays found in the park on the day of the incident and zoo officials are not sure how they got in.

Neither were microchipped and, despite efforts by the San Diego Humane Society to track their owners, they're currently being housed in a shelter.

“As soon as zoo staff saw the dog, they moved the gorillas out,” a spokesperson for the society said in a statement. Our three Humane Officers were able to move in and safely leash the shepherd and bring him back to San Diego Humane Society's Escondido Campus for evaluation.”

David Crookes has been a journalist for more than 20 years and he has written for a host of magazines, newspapers, websites and books including World of Animals, BBC Earth, Dogs and Canines, Gadget and The Independent. Born in England, he lives in a household with two cats but he’s also keenly interested in the differences between the huge number of dog breeds — in fact, you can read many of his breed guides here on PetsRadar. With a lifelong passion for technology, too, he’s always on the lookout for useful devices that will allow people to spend more time with their pets.