Gorilla Kumbuka attacks window at London Zoo
This is the moment an angry gorilla began smashing his way out of his enclosure at London Zoo before escaping for more than 90 minutes until he was tracked down by armed police.
The 7ft-tall 29 stone silverback called Kumbuka charged at the glass, where some 50 visitors were looking at him.
Eyewitnesses told that they were warned not to look Kumbuka in the eye as it agitates him - minutes before he smashed his way out of his enclosure.
However, some of the visitors were shouting at Kumbuka and 'egging him on' in the seconds before he charged. Armed police raced to the scene and were seen patrolling carrying Heckler & Koch MP5 semi-automatic carbines.
This is the moment Kumbuka attacked the glass in London Zoo today with 50 people watching
Witnesses said the gorilla launched himself at the glass as some visitors tried to wind him up
One eyewitness, Oliver Barker, 24, said a zoo keeper warned visitors against 'staring' at one of the male gorillas, believed to be Kumbuka, pictured, as this would 'aggravate him'
Heavily armed police raced to the zoo after they received reports of the escaped gorilla
Veterinary student Chloe Hughes was on her first visit to London Zoo when she filmed Kumbuka charge towards her.
The 23-year-old student from Surrey said: 'I was standing near the front. We were in there for a long time. The silverback was distressed. He was looking at everyone.
'Staff asked everyone to be quiet. We were at the front and they asked us to get out. They came to the front with their arms out.
'He seemed to stare at one spot for a while. People were screaming and egging him on.
'Then he jumped onto the rope and smashed against the glass. It was very scary.
‘After that happened, we all screamed.'
She said there was panic after Kumbuka charged at the glass as people - including parents pushing prams.
'We heard the panic in the zoo keepers voice. They were shouting at us to get out.
'I don’t think I would go back to a zoo again. I’m not a big fan of zoos. I’ve heard a lot of good things about London Zoo, but it makes you think.'
Veterinary student Chloe Hughes, pictured here at the zoo before the escape, recorded the very moment Kumbuka charged the glass in his enclosure in his effort to get out
Mr Barker posted a photograph of Kumbuka shortly before this afternoon's dramatic escape
It appeared like the armed officers were tasked to protect zoo keepers looking for the gorilla
Oliver Barker, 24, who was at the zoo for a marketing conference, told MailOnline that the gorilla had seemed ‘agitated’ earlier in the day, and keepers had warned visitors not to stare at him.
He said the animal looked ‘intimidating’ – and a colleague told him the gorilla had charged at the glass shortly before the escape.
He said: ‘He looked like he was in a sort of trance, he definitely wasn’t relaxed at all.
‘He looked very intimidating. The zookeeper came over and said, “don’t 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.’
'He has a gun' Visitors spot armed keepers in London zoo
London Zoo tonight refused to confirm whether Kumbuka, pictured, was the gorilla involved
The zoo was on lockdown after the massive gorilla burst out of his enclosure earlier today
Mr Barker said a colleague went into the enclosure soon after he had been in there, and saw the animal charging.
He said: ‘He said he charged at the glass but the glass didn’t even wobble.
‘Five minutes after that we were told to get into the nearest safe room.’
A spokesman for London Zoo said: ‘A male gorilla got out of its pen into a non-public keeper area at 5.13pm.
‘He remained contained in the exhibit’s off-show area where staff responded immediately.
‘It was our 18-year-old gorilla Kumbuka and he was tranquilised by vets and returned to his pen.
‘I can confirm that he is awake and well, and the zoo will be open tomorrow.’
Malcolm Fitzpatrick, the zoo's curator of mammals, said there were no injuries to visitors or zoo workers, adding that Kumbuka recovered quickly.
'I'm happy to report he's actually up and grumbling and interacting with the rest of his gorilla family.'