A stray dog’s curiosity got the best of him when he wandered into the gorilla enclosure at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
Visitors to the zoo got a shock when they spotted the shepherd dog sniffing around the habitat populated with a number of gorillas, one of which was not happy to see him. The silverback gorilla named Franklin chased after the dog, frightening both the dog and onlookers.
Zoo staff were immediately alerted by guests. Several guests shared video of the encounter on social media.
The dog appears to have wandered into the park with another dog on Sunday June 12, 2022. Somehow he managed to get inside the habitat before being spotted by visitors.
Desteniey Pickett, who saw the dog in the gorilla exhibit during her visit, told CBS8 that her family noticed the dog became distressed, no doubt realizing he was in a tough spot. Visitors began yelling for help while others yelled the silverback gorillas name in an attempt to distract him from the dog.
Soon zoo staff and Humane Officers from San Diego Humane Society arrived to help rescue the dog.
“Wildlife care specialists successfully recalled the two gorillas out of the habitat so the dog could be removed,” the safari park shared in a statement. “Recall training is a part of the regular safety procedures at the Park.”
San Diego Humane Society employed three people to leash the dog and bring him to safety. Officer Samantha Clark later told KTLA5, “You could tell he [the dog] really wanted help.”
“This adventurous dog, nicknamed ‘Mighty Joe Young,’ is now receiving care at our Escondido Campus, and our staff shared that he while did not have a microchip or collar, he is in full health and extremely friendly,” San Diego Humane Society later wrote on Facebook.
The SDHS added, “We’re so grateful to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park staff for helping this lucky dog get to safety, and not fining him for sneaking into the park without a pass!”
Mighty Joe Young will be held at their shelter for a mandatory hold period to see if he has a family and if not, will be put up for adoption.
The family of the dog – whose name is Meatball – have come forward and claimed him from the shelter. He will be neutered before going home.