Dog Wanders Into Gorilla Habitat in San Diego and Doesn’t Seem Fazed

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Updated: October 19, 2023
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The last thing you expect to see when you go to the zoo is a dog. While we love man’s best friend, the zoo is a place for wild animals. According to park officials, a stray dog entered the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on a Sunday in June 2022 and finally found its way inside the gorilla area. 

The gorilla diet includes more than 40 vegetables and fruits each day. Thankfully for the stray canine, gorillas are herbivores and eat yogurt, ants, and yogurt snail larvae, but they don’t eat other animals’ flesh or gorilla meat.

Watch the Heart-Stopping Video!

Social media users captured the gorilla and the dog assessing each other for a few anxious seconds as bystanders tried to get the pup out of the enclosure. Eventually, the dog ran past the gorilla, which was holding its ground, and across the enclosure. 

As he’s running around the enclosure, the gorilla is on his tail! This causes bystanders to root for the dog and yell out cheers of encouragement. One person can be heard saying, “Hurry!” With his tongue out, panting from the hard work, the pup stops for a break. 

He turns around and almost smiles as he looks at the primates! At one point, he looks as if he’s going to head back towards the gorillas but thankfully chooses a path, keeping plenty of distance between the two animals. 

San Diego County Humane Society police were able to enter safely and remove the dog because zoo officials immediately spotted and moved the gorilla. Just because primates won’t eat a dog, doesn’t mean they don’t see it as a threat. 

Rescue Mission

In order to find its owner, officials returned the dog to the Humane Society’s Escondido campus. It has been determined that the dog is a male shepherd without a microchip. The dog was doing fine after leaving the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, according to Humane Officer Brandt, who assisted in the rescue. 

His owner may come forward to the Escondido Campus, the humane society hopes. He is known as Mighty Joe Young for the time being. During an examination at the Escondido Campus the next day, veterinarians discovered a few ticks on the pet and gave him flea medication and vaccinations, according to a tweet from the San Diego Humane Society. 

Even though he was at the doctor’s office, Mighty Joe Young appeared to be content. A man named Michael comments on the video footage from the zoo and says what we’re all thinking: 

“I’m glad that the dog was rescued safely and hope he will definitely be adopted after this news story. Also very relieved to hear that the gorillas also weren’t harmed and there were no altercations between these species.” 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © BIGANDT.COM/

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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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