Despite more than five years of emergency drills together, the Dallas Zoo staff and Dallas police struggled with one another the day Jabari the gorilla escaped two weeks ago, reports the Dallas Morning News. The newspaper says records of the case “paint a picture of chaos instead of a well-trained team working together to find and subdue the 350-pound western lowland gorilla and rescue the three people injured by the primate.” The gorilla was shot to death by police.
For nearly 50 minutes, the zoo’s staff found themselves overrun by officers who ignored or were unaware of established emergency protocol the Police Department personnel helped to write, says the Morning News. “We had a million plans that we wrote and exercised until we tested them under fire,” said zoo director Rich Buickerood. “In this case, we know there are some things we want to talk to the police about.”
Officers not involved in any of the emergency drills ran past the zoo’s emergency response team with pistols drawn despite warnings that handguns against a gorilla were useless. Within minutes of the “code red” being sounded, zoo employees with a shotgun and rifle made their way to the chimpanzee exhibit. Every step of the way, police appeared to be distracting them, said one employee. “The police did not seem to recognize that they needed to remain behind us and we had to instruct them that their handguns would not be effective and they needed to stay out of our field of fire,” said the employee.