Originally created 04/01/04

Police shoot, kill escaped gorilla at zoo



DALLAS -- As a 350-pound gorilla ran free at the Dallas Zoo, attacking four people, employees clashed with police on how to corral the animal before police shot it to death, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

Despite more than five years of emergency drills together, police officers did not cooperate with zoo staff on March 18 as they tried to subdue Jabari, The Dallas Morning News reported, citing zoo records.

"It was mayhem," wrote Mike Glover, the zoo's emergency weapons team leader.

Zoo records show that just before the escape, two teenage boys standing on a trail overlooking the gorilla exhibit hurled either ice or stones at Jabari. The gorilla escaped his walled compound, snatched up a toddler with his teeth and injured three others.

Police have said officers were forced to shoot the charging gorilla after it came within 15 feet of them. According to the newspaper, a tranquilizer gun wielded by zoo staff had jammed.

The newspaper said police either ignored or were unaware of an emergency plan the police department had helped write. The SWAT team ran past employees on a nature trail, bypassing a meeting point set up to organize a search-and-rescue mission.

Animal welfare advocates have said police could have used nonfatal techniques to contain the gorilla, including using rubber bullets or cornering it.