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Dog removed after entering gorilla enclosure at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The dog is a male shepherd, with no microchip. He will be placed on stray hold as the Humane Society searches for his owner.

ESCONDIDO, Calif. — A dog was safely removed from inside of a gorilla enclosure at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on Sunday. The scary moment was captured on camera by CBS 8 viewers visiting the park.

After entering the enclosure, the shepherd was quickly spotted by a gorilla inside the exhibit. Desteniey Pickett told CBS 8 her family noticed the dog running around distressed as the gorilla began to chase it around the enclosure.

Picket said no zookeeper was around when they noticed the dog, and guests began to seek help. She said visitors began to gather around the enclosure and yell the gorilla's name, attempting to distract it from the scared dog.

Robert Robles couldn’t believe what he was seeing as he caught part of the action on camera. 

“They just started chasing after him and that was pretty nerve wracking,” he said.

On his video, you can hear park visitors screaming in fear. Employees called out to the gorillas, but at first they were too distracted by the unexpected visitor. 

Fearing the worst, families at the park were then told to leave. 

“A lot of employees showed up from the zoo and they literally kicked us out,” Robles said.

A few minutes later, the gorillas followed orders to leave the area, prompting this statement from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, “Wildlife care specialists successfully recalled the two gorillas out of the habitat so the dog could be removed. Recall training is a part of the regular safety procedures at the Park."

With the gorillas safely away, the San Diego Humane Society rescued the dog. Samantha Clark says she used a calm, friendly voice to coax over the petrified pooch. 

“He just wanted to go out,” she said with a laugh. Clark believes he's a year and half old shepherd mix. The dog, named Mighty Joe Young by Humane Society staffers, is calm now, but his demeanor Saturday was very different. 

“Nervous, afraid, understandably so,” Clark said. “He was in a new environment with new smells. Obviously getting chased by a gorilla would make him nervous.”

Credit: San Diego Humane Society

It's not clear how the dog got into the gorilla enclosure, but apparently he's been spotted in the area before. Park employees have spotted him hanging out in the past with a few buddies near the back of the park's property. No animals or people were injured during Saturday’s frightening incident, but Clark knows this could have ended much worse. 

“I would imagine the gorilla was probably more just trying to get the intruder out of their area, but I'm sure if he had put up a fight - he was probably ready to.”

Unfortunately, the dog isn't micro-chipped so he's currently on a stray hold with the hope the owner will come forward. That said, he won’t be at the San Diego Humane Society long. In fact, he already has interest from people wanting to adopt him, including one of the Safari Park's employees.

Credit: SD Humane Society

WATCH RELATED: Four riders arrested after causing gondola ride at the San Diego Zoo to be stuck for hours (Feb. 2022).

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