NEW ORLEANS – Audubon Nature Institute has released a video in response to one of the Audubon Zoo’s gorillas throwing a wooden block Sunday and injuring a pregnant woman.
Zoo officials said the gorilla injured the woman using an “enrichment tool” that’s given to the primates.
“The safety of our guests and employees is of utmost concern,” said Audubon’s Vice-President of Marketing Chimene Grant. “Audubon Zoo’s First Responders immediately attended to our guest for care and assistance.”
The Zoo’s animals receive enrichment tools daily, according to Audubon Nature Institute.
Enrichment at the AZA-accredited zoos across the country typically includes new food items, objects to manipulate, and activities designed to provide animals with opportunities to express natural, species-appropriate behaviors, whether it be foraging, exploring, playing, or other activities.
This particular enrichment item was a small piece of wood with small holes for food and treats such as honey and raisins. The enrichment item has been removed from the gorilla habitat.
“The health and welfare of the gorillas cared for at Audubon is paramount,” said Audubon Zoo Vice-President and General Curator Joel Hamilton. “We work to ensure that the physical and psychological needs of our gorillas are met by following best practices for animal care.”
Hamilton added, “Gorillas in the wild face many challenges today. Audubon is committed to taking a stand on critical issues facing apes in the wild and to providing excellent care for the gorillas at the Zoo.”
Audubon Zoo is working with the injured guest to make sure she gets the medical care she needs.
“We are examining how this unfortunate accident happened and will quickly address any concerns,” said Grant.
The incident has been reported to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Accreditation Commission for review as per standard protocol.