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DALLAS The Dallas Zoo says says human error was to blame for a gorilla who got out of her holding pen on Saturday.

In 2004, another gorilla escaped into a zoo crowd, injuring visitors until he was shot dead by police.

In this case, the zoo says a keeper who was new to the gorilla area broke protocol when she failed to make a visual check of where the animal was before opening its cage. Tufani got out of her enclosure, but did not escape from the building.

The zookeeper has been temporarily suspended.

The way the zoo sees it, its response to Tufani's accidental release, inside the gorilla building, was a success.

This was plain and simple a human error, said Dallas Zoo Director Gregg Hudson.

But public perception is a much bigger problem, particularly after the high profile escape of Jubari, the gorilla that injured three zoo visitors in 2004 including Cheryl Reichert.

I think the city of Dallas refuses to acknowledge or learn from their mistakes, Reichert told News 8 on Tuesday.

But that's exactly what the zoo says it has done by improving emergency training and making improvements to the gorilla building that let six staff members with weapons and three others armed with tranquilizer guns bring about a peaceful conclusion.

We think that it really helped us contain the incident, get it resolved, and made for a good outcome for the animal and the staff here, Hudson said.

The vets had to shoot tranquilizers through several mesh cages to hit Tufani. It took four shots and the zoo acknowledges that it was a traumatic event for the animal.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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