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Zoo accident sets mood for emotional film on gorillas in captivity (video)
February 25, 2017
In a scary moment caught on camera in 1986, a 5-year-old boy who had fallen from the wall of a zoo enclosure is approached by a large gorilla (See video below). The boy lies unconscious while Jambo, a 450-pound male silverback gorilla, examines him, protects him from other gorillas, and gently strokes his back. When the boy awakens and begins to cry, Jambo moves away and the other gorillas follow, as seen in the video below.
The scene was featured in "The Urban Gorilla," an award-winning 1992 documentary by ArgoFilms that follows the lives of nine gorillas living in captivity. Narrator Glenn Close describes the tense moment: "Never before had such an accident occurred. And never before had this full-grown male gorilla encountered a human being within his domain. Only the worst could be imagined. But what was to unfold this September afternoon would astonish the world."
And it did. The story of Jambo and the little boy made headlines around the world and was instrumental in helping to change the perception of gorillas from the mean-spirited animals of "King Kong" to the intelligent, sensitive species we know them as today.
All four subspecies of gorilla are on the endangered species list. The World Wildlife Fund, which has been working to protect gorillas for more than 50 years, reports that the biggest threats to the apes' survival are poaching, habitat loss, and infectious diseases. Ebola hemorrhagic fever alone has wiped out entire gorilla populations in a number of outbreaks since the early 1990s.