Jabari was a thirteen-year-old male three hundred pound western lowland gorilla. He lived in an enclosure in the Wilds of Africa exhibit at the Dallas Zoo. Jabari was generally a peaceful ape until Thursday, March 18, 2004.
Reportedly, after being teased incessantly by some youths, Jabari decided he'd had it and busted down the door that kept him in the enclosure. Then he apparently scaled the fifteen-foot concave wall of the award-winning exhibit. It was around 5 PM when the massive monkey escaped, where he injured four people in the process: three-year-old Rivers Noah (multiple bites to the head and chest); Rivers' mother, twenty-six year old Keisha Heard (leg bites); Cheryl Reichert (arm injuries); and an unidentified child.
Growling and yelling, Jabari's rampage took him into the forested jungles of the Wilds of Africa, where he was pursued by zoo workers armed with tranquilizers. They could not get a clear shot. That's when Dallas Police showed up.
Jabari then made the fatal mistake of trying to charge the officers. Their lives threatened, they fired on the pissed off gorilla and killed him.
"It tried to charge two of our officers, so we had to shoot it," recalled Deputy Police Chief Daniel Garcia. "You can imagine the pandemonium we had out here when he got loose. We felt terrible we had to put this animal down."
Dallas Zoo director Rich Buickerood was shocked that Jabari had scaled the fifteen-foot wall: "This habitat is among the best in the country. This blows our minds." He also said he was not sure why zoo employees did not use their pepper spray.
The zoo was in financial dire straits at the time, threatened by a takeover by the Dallas Zoological Society. That caused staff layoffs and postponements of maintenance. Could that have contributed to this tragic event?