Stray Dog Flirts With Disaster in Gorilla Habitat

Things got tense, but everyone was fine in the end in San Diego
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2022 1:03 PM CDT

In what must have seemed like a fine idea at the time, a stray dog wandered into the gorilla habitat at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on Sunday. Franklin the gorilla and his partner were not pleased; nor were the horrified onlookers, at least one of whom caught the episode on video, per CBS 8. In one clip, park visitors can be heard screaming and trying to distract the gorillas as the pooch runs for its life, as any sentient thing would when chased by a full-grown silverback. After some close calls, the distressed dog managed to create some space between itself and apes, shortly before park employees arrived on the scene.

Visitors were quickly ushered away, just in case things got ugly. Within minutes, the gorillas obeyed orders to clear out. According to a statement from zoo officials, “Wildlife care specialists successfully recalled the two gorillas out of the habitat so the dog could be removed." The dog had no tag or microchip, but he was quite friendly toward the Humane Society employee who first approached him. "You could tell he really wanted help," the rescuer told KTLA 5, describing how the humbled pooch approached with tail wagging.

The shepherd mix—now known as "Mighty Joe Young"—was one of three strays seen wandering around the park on Sunday. Nobody knows how he entered the habitat or what he hoped to find, but he was uninjured, as were the gorillas and humans. Per the Independent, the dog is safe in an Escondido shelter. The Humane Society expressed gratefulness to park staff for "helping this lucky dog to safety, and not fining him for sneaking into the park without a pass!" (More San Diego Zoo stories.)

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