Zoo officials are investigating Monday after two gorillas got into a non-public feeding area, prompting visitors to briefly move into secure areas.
At least one employee faces discipline after the two male gorillas got loose, putting zookeepers in jeopardy, Zoo Director Randy Wisthoff said.
"The protocol wasn't followed to double check the locks. And a door was left open," he said. "And the gorillas ended up in the hallway with animal keepers."
People visiting the Kansas City Zoo were briefly quarantined Sunday after two western lowland gorillas got out of their habitat for about three hours and roamed from their enclosed exhibit into a zookeeper area.
Visitors were kept in secure areas for up to an hour before being allowed to leave.
The gorillas were 19-year-old half brothers Mbundi and Ntondo. They spotted two female gorillas that they hadn't spotted before, and as expected, their interest was piqued.
The males began to perform for the females, giving the women keepers precious moments to make their escape.
Two zoo keepers were forced to use a ladder to get out of the gorilla exhibit when the gorillas were discovered in the keeper area of the building. The keepers had been cleaning and laying out treats for the gorillas when they came sauntering in.
Employees used water hoses to force the animals back into their enclosure. The gorillas were on the loose for several hours.
Zoo officials issued a Code Red about 2:30 p.m. Sunday, indicating an animal had escaped.
According to zoo spokeswoman Julie Neemeyer, the gorillas were never in a general area where zoo patrons visit, but they were in an area where zoo keepers feed the animals.
Visitors in the gorilla area of the Africa section were escorted from the area and into the nearby Cheetah area as a precaution. Zoo officials said about 40 visitors were held in the Cheetah section for about 45 minutes.
All the guests in the Africa section of the zoo were asked to stay inside as a precaution until zoo workers were able to get the primate problem resolved.
One woman wrote on KCTV5's Facebook page that she was visiting the Africa section when the escape was reported. She said she and about 30 other people were taken into a kitchen where workers prep food for baboons. They waited there until the coast was clear.
"It didn't smell good, but it's nice to know they went the extra mile to keep us safe!" Esther Caceres Grenz wrote.
Another visitor reported that he was asked to leave the area because of fear the animals would get past the final set of doors.
Once the gorillas were contained, officials later evacuated all the patrons out of the Africa area.
The zoo has a total of six gorillas. The zoo doesn't have surveillance cameras in public or private areas, so there's no "dash cam" of the gorillas' dash.
The zoo is offering refunds and free tickets to visitors inconvenienced during Sunday's scare.
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