AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – A 400-pound gorilla escaped from its enclosure and ran amok in a Rotterdam zoo Friday, biting one woman, dragging her around and causing scenes of panic among dozens of families before being subdued, zoo officials said.
The Diergaarde Blijdorp zoo was evacuated and the 11-year old gorilla, named "Bokito," was eventually barricaded inside a restaurant, Rotterdam police spokeswoman Yvette de Rave said. She said at least two people were injured in the incident.
Zoo spokeswoman Lilian Jonkers said Bokito was shot with a sedative dart and recaptured. It was not immediately clear how the black-backed male managed to climb the high stone walls surrounding his enclosure.
"He got over the moat, which in itself is remarkable because gorillas can't swim," zoo director Ton Dorrestijn told reporters. "He got onto a path for visitors and started running and went at full speed through tables and diners at the Oranje restaurant."
Dorrestijn said four people were injured, including one woman with a bite wound, as the gorilla dashed through the zoo and restaurant, NOS radio reported.
Eyewitness Robert de Jonge was interviewed by the Netherlands' NOS radio, saying he did not see the gorilla escape but began following it shortly afterward, as he saw people running and screaming that an escaped gorilla had grabbed a woman — and he tried to help.
"I saw the beast running through the park with a woman behind him, him grabbing her forearm," De Jonge said.
At a distance of around 30 yards, he saw the gorilla lie down near the woman and then heard her scream.
"He bit her, or I think he bit her, because when he stood up his mouth was covered in blood," De Jonge said.
He said he then stopped to tell arriving police what had happened and ran with them as they traced the gorilla to a nearby restaurant terrace within the zoo.
The zoo was packed with visitors as many Dutch took advantage of a national holiday.
"Everyone was in panic, running away, screaming, wailing, screaming kids running around ... kids without parents — it was a total drama," De Jonge said.
Photos from the scene showed children cowering in their parents' arms as the gorilla loped past.
People tried to hide inside the restaurant and were trying to bar the door, but fled as the gorilla approached, De Jonge said. Bokito then punched through the glass door and ran inside.
"They were all in panic, the animal too I mean, and all the people ran outside the restaurant, and zoo personnel were running up and they were able to keep the animal inside by barricading the doors with garden furniture and things."
De Jonge said he later saw the woman who was bitten "covered in blood" but walking unaided, and he said her injuries were probably not life-threatening.