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Dead Gorilla Story Becomes Even Bigger Bummer

Scott Lucas | November 10, 2014 | Lifestyle Story City Life

The more you know about it, the sadder this story becomes.

The death of Kabibe—who was crushed to death late Friday night when she dashed under a closing hydraulic door—at the San Francisco Zoo on Friday night is tragic enough if you haven't heard the the 15-month-old western lowland gorilla's up-from-the odds backstory.

To start with, Kabibe's species is critically endangered, with only 750 living in captivity. There are an estimated 100,000 in the wild, with a territory that ranges across the central part of Africa. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the animal's population has declined by 60% over the last 20 to 25 years.

Kabibe, one of the only such gorillas to be born in a zoo, was rejected by her mother at birth, and—weighing only 8 pounds—was raised by human staffers for the first six months of her life. She was reintroduced to the pack less than a year ago.

According to the Zoo, the hydraulic door was equipped with a manual safety switch, which was not activated in time. Similar doors at other zoos are equipped with electronic sensors and pressure plates (similar to garage doors in houses), but it's not known if the SF Zoo's had those in place.

"Some animal deaths are more difficult to process than others, and this tragedy has struck us all in the deepest way imaginable," San Francisco Zoo Executive Director and President Tanya Peterson said in a statement Saturday. Go home and hug your children—human or gorilla.

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