Zoo Atlanta gorilla charges, breaks glass barrier

ATLANTA – Zoo Atlanta’s Willie B. Conservation Center remains closed after a 20-year-old silver back gorilla charged a glass barrier, causing it to crack, officials said.

Authorities suspect the gorilla – a male named Taz – charged because he was concerned about veterinarians who were in the viewing area. A day earlier, Taz underwent what officials said was “a routine medical exam.”

“Gorillas often associate their veterinarians as the ones giving vaccinations and can react nervously – much like many people do with a visit to the doctor or dentist,” Dr. Hayley Murphy, the zoo’s director of veterinary services, said in a news release.

Officials stressed that neither the zoo’s staff nor its visitors were in danger. The exhibit includes a moat and an electric wire between “the yard” and the viewing area.

“World-class animal care and the safety of our guests and staff are of the utmost importance at Zoo Atlanta,” Zoo Atlanta President and CEO Raymond King said in a news release. “We have many drills to prepare Zoo staff for various incidents and that preparation allowed us to safely return Taz to his secure holding area with no injuries to either the public or to the animal.”

The exhibit will re-open once repairs to the exhibit are completed, officials said without giving a timeframe.

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