London Zoo gorilla drank five litres of blackcurrant squash after escape

Kumbuka sparked a lockdown last week after escaping from his enclosure

Kumbuka

Kumbuka the gorilla | File photo: PA Wire

A gorilla who sparked a lockdown at London Zoo when he escaped from his enclosure spent some of his freedom downing five litres of undiluted blackcurrant squash.

Armed police were called in and visitors were cleared from the area after Kumbuka's "opportunistic" escape at dinner time last week.

The 29st primate had been called for his food just after 5pm last Thursday and went through two doors that had been left unlocked before coming face-to-face with the zookeeper.

Professor David Field, ZSL London Zoo's zoological director, said the two had an "incredibly close bond", adding:

"The zookeeper was able to continually reassure Kumbuka, talking to him calmly and in the same light-hearted tone he would always use, as he removed himself from the area."

Staff then raised the alarm as the 18-year-old western lowland gorilla explored the zookeeper's area, which was next door to his enclosure.

Seemingly oblivious to the commotion outside, he then opened and drank the bottles of blackcurrant squash.

Prof Field added: "Kumbuka was immediately contained in the non-public area by quick-thinking zookeepers responding to the alarm, where he was tranquilised and moved back to his den."

He said: "I can certainly tell you that there were no broken locks.

"Kumbuka did not smash any windows, he was never 'on the loose'."

The day after the incident, there were calls for an inquiry into what had happened, with the Born Free Foundation saying it was a "startling reminder" of how dangerous wild animals could be when kept in captivity.

Chris Draper, associate director at the foundation, said: "This incident could have ended very differently."