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Penn. gorilla escapes zoo cage, devours junk food

PITTSBURGH, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Zookeepers in Pittsburgh are trying to figure out how a gorilla got loose and managed to make a pig of herself by wolfing down muffins, cherry pastries and soda pop at a concession area normally reserved for humans.

About 250 people cowered inside nearby buildings at the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium for 45 minutes, after the 150-pound (68 kg) female gorilla escaped from an outdoor exhibit by crossing a wide moat and scaling a 14-foot (4.2-metre) wall to freedom.

The animal, which is only 3-1/2 feet (one-metre) tall and is not considered a public danger, quickly found her way to the zoo's outdoor concession area on Sunday afternoon and began digging through overflowing trash cans.

``She seemed to especially like the Orange Slice'' soda pop, Barbara Baker, the zoo president and chief executive, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Zookeepers finally lured her into a women's lavatory, where they injected her with a tranquilizer.

No one was ever in danger from the unnamed gorilla, the first to escape from the zoo's decade-old Tropical Forest Complex and make it to what one zookeeper described as ``the wrong side of the monkey house.''

Members of the zoo's Animal Escape Team believe the animal may have climbed to freedom on a bamboo stalk that had fallen into a waterless moat which surrounds the gorilla exhibit.

The gorilla was later reported to be in good shape, though zookeepers feared she may experience some nausea as a result of the anesthesia and the junk food, a drastic change from her diet of fruit and monkey chow.

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