An agitated gorilla has been captured after escaping from its enclosure at London Zoo, sparking an emergency at the visitor attraction.
Families visiting the zoo were told to get indoors and placed under lockdown as quickly as possible after the gorilla managed to get out of its habitat.
The gorilla was on the loose for nearly two hours before staff at the zoo managed to shoot it with a tranquiliser dart.
Visitors immediately started to post photos and videos of the incident to social media, with footage showing armed police searching the Regent’s Park zoo while people hid inside buildings. Helicopters were seen overhead, presumed to have been helping in the search for the escaped creature.
One Twitter user said the gorilla had earlier become agitated and thrown itself at the window.
Police at Scotland Yard say the scary incident has now been “concluded”.
Former rugby player Matt Hampson, who became tetraplegic after a practice accident, had been due to talk at the zoo. He tweeted: “Well, that’s the first time that has happened, was doing a talk at London Zoo this evening but evacuated because of an escaped gorilla.”
One eyewitness said: “We were in the zoo for the day, having a cup of coffee in the main restaurant area when they locked us all in and said there was an incident.
“They gave us free teas and coffees and obviously we were asking what was going on and they told us that a gorilla had got out of its enclosure and that we weren’t allowed out of the park at 5.30 so we had to wait. As we were waiting we saw the police turning up in numbers with loads of guns.”
Another visitor said they had been warned by a member of staff not to stare at the animal before it escaped. They said: “He looked very intimidating. The zookeeper came over the said not to aggravate him by staring at him.
“She could tell he was very agitated and, lo and behold, soon after we were told he had escaped.”
It is not yet known which of the zoo’s gorillas escaped, but according to its website, it has seven gorillas living in the especially-designed Gorilla Kingdom.
One of the gorillas is Kumbuka, who is a western lowland silverback who has been in London for three years after being transferred from Paignton Zoo in Devon.