Zookeeper injured after gorillas creep into kitchen at Calgary Zoo

CALGARY – A zookeeper was injured Friday while trying to corral some gorillas that managed to get into a kitchen at the Calgary Zoo.

Malu Celli, a zoo curator, said the man was treated in hospital for undisclosed minor injuries and released.

“The public was never at risk and the zoo’s emergency response team was very quick on the scene,” she said. “They prevented the situation from becoming serious.”

Celli said staff are not sure how many of the western lowland gorillas, which can weigh as much as 270 kg, got into the kitchen from their enclosure in the rainforest exhibit.

There are eight of the gorillas, which are native to central Africa, at the Calgary Zoo.

Celli said the kitchen is attached to the enclosure and is filled with food gorillas eat, including fruit, fresh vegetables and grain.

The animals involved were safely moved back to the exhibit.

This isn’t the first time the big primates have caused problems at the zoo.

In 2009, a western lowland gorilla named Barika made international headlines when it was photographed holding a knife that a zookeeper had left in the exhibit. Barika eventually lost interest in the knife and placed it on a chair, where it was safely recovered. No people or animals were injured.

A report by the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums into the knife incident cleared the zoo of any wrongdoing.

Celli said the Calgary Zoo will conduct its own review into how the gorillas got into the kitchen.

“We are going to investigate and take action.”