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Viral video of zookeepers and silverback gorilla is from Oct. 2023, Fort Worth Zoo says

A gorilla sits on a boulder on June 9, 2023 at the Fort Worth Zoo.
Cristian ArguetaSoto
Fort Worth Report
A gorilla sits on a boulder on June 9, 2023 at the Fort Worth Zoo.

Viral video of a gorilla sprinting and overturning a tub of food as one zookeeper runs away and another looks for an escape is more than four months old, according to the Fort Worth Zoo.

Neither of the two zookeepers or the 34-year-old silverback gorilla were injured in the incident, which took place in the ape enclosure Oct. 20, 2023, a spokesperson for the zoo said.

“Due to keeper error, staff entered the yard unaware that the silverback was still in its habitat,” Avery Elander, director of marketing and public relations, wrote in an email to the Report. “The zookeepers work with and train these animals every day and thanks to their knowledge and expertise, they navigated the situation calmly and were able to exit the yard safely.”

The keepers’ policy is to double check the doors and location of the animals before entering the space. Zoo representatives said that the importance of these policies have been reinforced to staff in order to prevent a similar incident happening again.

“Elmo has never shared space with his zookeepers, so he was surprised to see them there. However, he did not make any attempts to hurt them,” Elander said. “In general, gorillas are considered the “gentle giants” of the great ape species.”

Keepers are well-versed in animal behaviors and husbandry practices and also take emergency preparedness training, Elander continued. “You can see in the video how they utilized their knowledge and expertise to intentionally navigate the situation — they both remained calm, moved cautiously and watched and responded to the animal’s behavior.”

The video is spreading just weeks after the birth of Jameela, the zoo’s first-ever gorilla born via an emergency cesarean section in January.

Jameela’s birth mother, Sekani, suffered from preeclampsia and never fully bonded with her infant after the birth so the zoo, instead, started training a surrogate mother named Gracie.

On March 5, the zoo shared a video and announced that it was “following Gracie’s lead” and that they are now working with another gorilla named Winifred, or Fred for short, after progress with Gracie slowed.

“Our goal is — and always has been — to make sure Jameela is raised by gorillas. While we work with Fred over the next week, we are also consulting with our national partners about the best next steps,” the zoo wrote in its Facebook post. “In the meantime, Jameela is healthy, strong and growing like a weed!”

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3 p.m. to include additional information provided by the Fort Worth Zoo.

Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

This article first appeared on Fort Worth Report and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.