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Gorilla injures 1 during brief escape at SC zoo

A 390-pound gorilla grabbed some low-hanging bamboo to scale a wall at a South Carolina zoo Friday, escaping his enclosure and tackling a worker before returning to his pen about five minutes later.

The gorilla at Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens ran into a pizza-stand employee who curled up and played dead to try to avoid further injuries, officials said. The man, who works for Aramark Corp., was taken to a hospital and released a short time later with cuts and bruises.

Zoo executive director Satch Krantz said the worker heard a strange sound, saw the gorilla outside the enclosure and turned to run.

"Then the gorilla did what gorillas do," he said.

The animal quickly closed the 30-foot gap between them and knocked the worker down. Two minutes later, the gorilla went over another wall and back into his enclosure.

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The culprit is believed to be a 16-year-old western lowland gorilla named Mike, though zoo officials said they didn’t know for certain. Three gorillas are in the exhibit.

About 340 people were ushered to indoor exhibits or outside the gates for about 45 minutes after the gorilla escaped, zoo officials said.

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