WICHITA, KS -- Glass windows stand between 400 pound gorillas and visitors at the Sedgwick County Zoo. Zoo keepers say sometimes those gorillas bang on the windows to intimidate the other apes.
"Billy and Tommy were out in the outdoor exhibit for the day. I had brought in the boys that evening. Billy didn't want to quite come in. So I left him out for a little time out. I came back and he came readily in and I'm like what's going on," said Senior Gorilla Keeper Danielle Decker.
That is when Decker says Billy used his incredible power, about eight times the strength of an adult male human, to hit the window with his fist. The glass shattered. "I'm glad I wasn't here. Well, maybe it would've been exciting to see the gorilla do it but it's kind of scary. They must be really strong," said zoo visitor Shanna Wiggins.
"This glass did exactly what we expected it to do," said Decker.
A small section of glass is setup in the ape exhibit as a demonstration. It shows the three layers of glass that make up the windows. Decker says only the first layer of glass, closest to the gorillas, broke. "We touched it and it's like still smooth on the outside," said Wiggins.
Decker says the glass is one and a half inch thick and can withstand hurricane force winds. She says the public was never in danger. "If we didn't think it was safe we wouldn't put gorillas out. It's very safe."
The gorillas are currently housed indoors and Zoo keepers posted a sign to inform visitors. But the unique fracture of the glass catches the attention of many. "We saw this and we definitely wanted to come check it out. We were curious what it was," said Wiggins.
Although this type of display by the gorillas is rare, Decker says it is not the first time. "This is the third time it's happened. The other two times it was Tommy actually. So, this pair is quite the pair to be together," she said.
Decker says the gorillas are a couple of 20-something primates with a need to prove their masculinity.
The zoo plans to replace the glass Tuesday.