A giant male silverback gorilla sparked a scare at the world-famous London Zoo after the primate escaped from its enclosure.
Visitors and staff at the zoo were locked into buildings and ordered not to leave certain areas after the 184-kg gorilla, named Kumbuka, fled.
Staff armed with tranquiliser darts roamed the zoo before the animal was eventually recaptured over an hour later yesterday.
"He did not smash glass to get out of his area. He got out of his back den area into a secure keeper area," said Malcolm Fitzpatrick, curator of mammals at the zoo.
There have been no reports of injuries to the public, although some visitors expressed fear and concern as parts of the zoo in the Regent's Park area was put on lock-down while heavily armed police were summoned to help zoo workers hunt down the animal.
The gorilla, described as a "gentle giant", was tranquilised and taken back into captivity.
London Zoo was open to visitors today but the gorilla enclosure remained closed.
Born Free Foundation - which wants to see zoos phased out - has called on the Zoos Expert Committee, the UK government's advisory body, to investigate the welfare of great apes in zoos across the UK.
"While we are relieved that this incident apparently ended without injury to visitors or to the gorilla, it is yet another startling reminder of the risks associated with maintaining dangerous wild animals in captivity.
"We are calling for an urgent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding this escape and into safety procedures at London Zoo," said Chris Draper, the foundation's associate director for animal welfare and care.
The incident comes months after a gorilla was killed by staff at Cincinatti Zoo after it caught hold of a child who had fallen into its enclosure.
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