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Gorilla was teased before the attack

Monday 21 May 2007

The 180 kilo gorilla Bokito, who jumped over a 3.5 metre ditch on Friday and attacked a woman at Rotterdam's Blijdorp zoo, had probably been provoked into making his escape, zoo officials said at the weekend.

The preliminary investigation showed that shortly before the attack, children had been throwing stones at the gorilla, officials said. In addition, the behaviour of his victim may have contributed.

Fifty-seven year old Petronella Yvonne de Horde was a frequent visitor to the gorilla enclosure and according to her daughter believed she had a 'special relationship' with Bokito. One keeper said the gorilla may not have found De Horde submissive enough when she sought eye contact with him.

'I know Bokito targeted my wife. We were looking at him and as we walked away we heard a splash and there he was behind us,' the victim's husband Gerrit de Horde told the Volkskrant.

The gorilla grabbed the woman and dragged her several metres before making for the restaurant where he was eventually recaptured.

Bokito's keeper Fred Rueb told the paper the gorilla's behaviour had changed in recent weeks, since another gorilla group with a dominant male had been moved to Shanghai.

Bokito, who was raised by hand in Germany, was sent to Blijdorp in 2005 because he was too used to humans and did not show the 'desired group behaviour', the Volkskrant said.

His victim underwent a second round of operations on Sunday. She has a broken wrist and lower arm, a crushed hand and dozens of bites. Husband De Horde said surgeons told him his wife's hand may never recover.

'There will be a hefty damages claim,' he told the Volkskrant. 'They knew he was an escape-risk. He'd done it before.' Nevertheless, he said his wife did not bear Bokito, 11, any malice.

© DutchNews.nl



 

Readers' Comments

Bokito could have easily killed her, but he didn't. The woman should get her head checked.

By Q | 21 May 2007 7:37 PM

Thank goodness zoo personnel didn't punish the animal because visitors were foolish!

By mary | 22 May 2007 8:39 PM

Finally, the REAL story! All those English sites blame it all on Bokito! So, they always forget to mention the woman taunted and provocted him by smiling at him... because Gorilla's never smile! If they do, it's a threat.

Okay, I admit, I did not know that, but a caretaker said this to the woman and she still continued! If she loved gorillas that much, then why didn't she know a single thing about them?

Oh, and yes, it's still terrible what happened. I just think it's awful people blame it all on Bokito or the zoo.

By K.O. | 24 May 2007 9:45 PM

Bokito deserves more privacy, then when he needs to get away from prying eyes, he won't go berzerk. Maybe the gorilla area should be open only twice a week.

Also, their area needs to be made more like a nature environment. If zoos are going to keep animals locked up, they should make every effort not to torture them emotionally. Yeah, gorillas got feelings.

By Jane in USA | 30 May 2007 12:15 AM

Just so you know, Jane, I've seen the gorilla Island; it's really hard to even find the gorilla's! They really have a lot of privacy.

However, their inside 'rooms' (which are huge), allow direct eye contact with visitors through glass. And then you have a woman who makes eye contact 4 times a week.... He would have gone crazy sooner or later; he might even have been able to break through the awesome thick glass... because that woman, unintentionally, taunted him.

But rest asore, the inside 'rooms' will get a special coating; the gorilla's can't see out (well, for a metre or so; if they climb up they can choose to watch humans), but we can see in. Direct contact will most likely be a LOT harder from now on.

By KO | 4 June 2007 11:42 PM

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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