Zoo: Keeper Accidentally Shot With Tranquilizer Was NOT In Gorilla Suit | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Zoo: Keeper Accidentally Shot With Tranquilizer Was NOT In Gorilla Suit

Here's a scene out of sketch comedy: A zookeeper dresses up as a gorilla and pretends to escape as part of a training drill, then gets shot by a tranquilizer dart when a vet mistakes the primate costume for the real thing.

News outlets around the world picked up that story Thursday. It was said to have happened at the Loro Parque Zoo in Tenerife, Spain, and it didn't have a funny ending. The man was reportedly hospitalized in serious condition, after an allergic reaction to enough sedative to — literally — take down a 400-pound gorilla.

But that solemn note didn't negate the fact that there was a gorilla suit involved, and news outlets from New York to Australia fired up their search engines to look for the perfect fake-gorilla photo.

"No-one told the vet it wasn't real," said The Daily Mail. "Gorilla-costume man shot with tranquilizer," read a headline on EuroWeeklyNews. One Canadian radio station went with "Gorilla Suits Are Dangerous!"

Alas, it seems the real zoo mishap had nothing to do with a convincing gorilla costume. Spain's El Pais reports that, yes, a zookeeper at Loro Parque was shot by a tranquilizer dart during a training drill — but no gorilla costume was involved.

The accident was apparently an example of poor gun-handling skills, not a case of mistaken identity.

Emergency drills are normal events at Loro Parque, the newspaper reports, and this one went smoothly until the accident:

"During the emergency drill, a call went out to the vets giving them a false warning that one of the five gorillas had managed to escape a safety pen and make his way into another area meant for the animals. When one of the vets arrived on the scene, he was told by the employee in charge of the operation that it was a fictitious emergency.

"It was at that moment that the vet accidentally fired the tranquilizer gun, shooting one of the keepers in the leg."

The man was taken to the hospital, but the park's head of communication, Patricia Delponti, told El Pais that he is now "in perfect health."

The U.K.'s Express quotes Delponti as saying, "Obviously he was sleeping a lot after being shot with a tranquillizer meant for a 200 kg gorilla, but he is now already back to work."

So the story does have a happy ending of sorts — but no gorilla suit.

"If they told the story in the way it really happened," Delponti told El Pais, "it wouldn't be that funny."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, Sept. 2

You can see a selection of Chinese films or meditate on the meaning of the word “axis” at an art exhibition.

NPR

These 5 Crops Are Still Hand-Harvested, And It's Hard Work

Saffron, vanilla, palm oil, cacao and cottonseed oil are still picked by hand in some parts of the world. Sometimes that manual labor shows up in the price of the food; sometimes it doesn't.
NPR

The Politics Of Calling In Sick

A growing grass-roots movement aims to establish paid sick leave in the U.S., enjoying some success at the city and state level. The issue is already playing big in 2014 political races.
NPR

Why Do We Blindly Sign Terms Of Service Agreements?

Audie Cornish talks with University of Chicago Law School professor Omri Ben-Shahar about terms of service agreements for software and websites.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.