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Dog who found way into Safari Park gorilla exhibit returns to owners

meatball mighty joe young
Posted at 9:37 AM, Jun 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-20 13:59:39-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A dog who found its way into the gorilla enclosure at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park a week ago has found his way home, the San Diego Humane Society announced Monday.

The dog, a one-and-a-half-year-old male shepherd nicknamed "Mighty Joe Young," is actually named "Meatball" and was reclaimed by his owners on Sunday.

On Sunday, June 12, Meatball made his own way into the park and then the ape enclosure, prompting a call to SDHS humane officers.

The gorillas watched the dog warily, according to zoo staff reports and videos taken by guests, with one following the lost dog for a short period of time and another chasing it away from a ledge. When zoo staff saw the dog, they were able to recall the animals using their safety recall procedures.

RELATED: Dog safely removed from gorilla exhibit at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The three SDHS officers were able to leash the one-and-a-half-year-old shepherd and bring him back to the organization's Escondido campus for evaluation.

"The dog was very easy, sweet, a nice dog. Very easy to leash," said SDHS officer Samantha Clark, who responded to the call. "He was incredibly lucky that he did not get any injuries from his encounter."

Neither the dog nor the gorillas were hurt in the incident, SDHS and Safari Park staff reported.

The following Monday, Mighty Joe Young received a veterinary exam by the San Diego Humane Society's Dr. Brie Sarvis. She removed several ticks from the dog, but said he is otherwise in good condition. The dog has also been given all of his vaccines.

He was placed at the Escondido campus on a "stray hold," a four-day period for the owner to come forward and claim him. Meatball was first cleared medically and neutered by San Diego Humane Society veterinarians before his family reclaimed him.

Meatball's family was able to fit their yard with a trolley system so he's able to run and explore without the risk of wandering from home again in the future, a spokeswoman for SDHS said.