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Experienced zookeeper weighs in on viral video of keepers trapped in gorilla enclosure
Featured Image Credit: TikTok/@zookeepermel/TikTok/@ben30609

Experienced zookeeper weighs in on viral video of keepers trapped in gorilla enclosure

"Just think about that for one moment before you place judgment."

Warning: This article contains a video which some readers may find distressing.

A zookeeper with over 15 years' experience has spoken out after viewing viral footage of keepers getting 'trapped' in a gorilla enclosure.

Yesterday (March 8), footage was released onto social media showing two zookeepers at Fort Worth Zoo in Texas getting stuck inside an enclosure with a male silverback gorilla.

It didn't take long for the nail-biting clip to go viral and an experienced zookeeper has since given her view.

The recording was shared to TikTok by a user named Ben who claimed to be the 'responding security officer' on site at the time the incident occurred in late 2023.

The video shows the moment two zookeepers become 'trapped' in the enclosure of a gorilla named Elmo, with visitors peering through the viewing glass and praying for the zoo employees to make it out unharmed.

Thankfully, despite both zookeepers ending up in stand-offs with the silverback they both made it out before any major issues occurred between them and the animal.

However, that didn't stop many flooding to social media to speculate about what happened and weigh in with their views. And zoologist and conservationist Melanie - who goes by @zookeepermel on TikTok - has a message for them.

One zookeeper ran straight to a door.

Taking to her platform yesterday, Melanie highlighted how the incident 'could be considered a traumatic event' particularly for other zookeepers to have to see and so some zookeepers may find the clip too 'triggering' to watch.

She said: "What we are not going to do is speculate. We don't know exactly what happened yet, we may never find out."

Melanie reflected that the situation 'could have ended very badly' given what a 'dangerous' and 'very large' animal the gorilla is.

The zookeeper continued: "And now imagine having the worst day of potentially your life, definitely of your career, happen and then have it videotaped and blasted all over the internet.

"Just think about that for one moment before you place judgment, before you start asking your questions - have some empathy for these people."

Melanie has praised the zookeepers' responses to getting 'trapped' in the enclosure.

Melanie explained keepers 'train for these moments', pointing out the moment the first keeper 'gets on her radio' and calls for backup and help.

"I can tell you from experience, that is the hardest radio call you will ever make in your career," she said. "It is difficult, you have to stay calm and collected the entire time. And these keepers did that."

She also praised the keepers for waiting and getting 'cues from the animal to know what he was kind of going to do'.

And the moment which 'really got' Melanie was hearing someone praying for the keepers off camera, with her applauding the visitors for also remaining calm during the incident and not distracting the staff or 'trying to intervene'.

"Human life always comes first, you are a human as a visitor, you also have to make sure you're safe," she said.

However, she added that you should always go and get help from a staff member if the keeper is alone.

Overall, while noting the keepers certainly weren't 'lucky', Melanie said the gorilla certainly 'knew' and had a 'good relationship' with the duo because Elmo was 'actually very calm', despite some of his running appearing 'scary'.

She reinforced: "Please keep your speculation and your negative comments to yourselves, thanks."

UNILAD has contacted Fort Worth Zoo for comment.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available through Mental Health America. Call or text 988 to reach a 24-hour crisis center or you can webchat at You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting MHA to 741741.

Topics: Animals, Social Media, Texas, TikTok, US News