Los Angeles Zoo Worker Falls Into Gorilla Enclosure

A Los Angeles Zoo worker fell into the gorilla enclosure and had to be rescued by firefighters. Fortunately for the 61-year-old man, the big apes were still lounging in their “bedrooms” at the time of the accident.

The grounds workers at the Los Angeles Zoo fell into the gorilla enclosure around 8:30 a.m. and was never in danger of being attacked by the massive creatures, ABC News reports. It took members of the Los Angeles Fire Department about 25 minutes to extract the unidentified man from the zoo habitat. The fire department deployed two urban search-and-rescue task forces to the zoo, and a rope system was used to hoist the man to the surface. He was ultimately secured to a stretcher and lifted out of a “planted moat” inside the habitat.

The Los Angeles Zoo grounds worker was transported to a local hospital. He reportedly had likely suffered a fractured femur during the fall into the gorilla enclosure. The zoo was not yet open when the accident at the Western Lowland Gorillas habitat took place, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Western lowland gorillas are both the strongest and largest of the great apes, according to the Los Angeles Zoo website. All gorillas on display in zoos across the United States are reportedly of this primate species group. The group also includes bonobos, chimpanzees, and orangutans. The gorillas are on the critically endangered list. Both disease — particularly Ebola — and hunting have prompted a 60 percent population decline over the past two decades.

The gorillas live in the swamp, forest, and lowlands in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa. Some of the nations which comprise this region include the Congo, Gabon, Angola, and Equatorial Guinea.

The Los Angeles Zoo grounds worker probably fell into one of the most dangerous habitats at the facility. Even though western lowland gorillas are herbivores and dine primarily on vines, stalks, thistles, and wild celery, they could tear a human being apart in mere moments if they feel threatened.

Male gorillas are commonly twice as large as their female counterparts. The males weigh more than 350 pounds and possess sharp canine teeth. Although gorillas tend to walk mostly on all fours because their weight is difficult to support, if they did stand upright, most of the gorillas would stretch to six feet tall. When male gorillas reach maturity, around 10-years-old, they begin to develop the silver hair on its back to announce their new adult status. It is not currently known how long gorillas live in the wild. The longest lifespan of a captive gorilla is reportedly 35 years.

The California zoo encompasses 133 acres. It opened in the fall of 1966 and currently houses more than 1,100 mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles, representing more than 250 different species, of which 29 are endangered, the facility’s website notes. In the botanical gardens at the zoo, more than 7,400 individual plants representing over 800 different species are showcased.

Each year, the city-owned Los Angeles Zoo hosts more than 1.5 million visitors. John R. Lewis is the current zoo director. The animal facility is the fourth zoo to operate in the city; the first opened in 1885.

Details surrounding the potentially deadly accident by the Los Angeles Zoo grounds worker have not yet been shared publicly. The zoo has not yet responded to media requests for a comment about the accident.

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