By Kelcie Willis, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
NEW ORLEANS — A woman who is six months pregnant visited the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans and went to the hospital after a gorilla tossed a block of wood into a crowd Sunday.
WWL reported that the woman, Sylvia Cressy, said one of the two female gorillas at the zoo there threw a block of wood at her.
“Everybody started scattering, like running, so I tried to cover my face, then as I was turning around, the thing just hit my head,” Cressy, 34, said. “The stick, the wood put a lump on my head. When it hit me, I kind of blanked out. It really took the wind out of me and I fell on my belly. As I regained consciousness, I was just worried about my baby.”
According to Audubon Zoo, the gorilla, 20-year-old Praline, is one of three western lowland gorillas at the zoo and the incident involved an enrichment tool, which many zoos use to keep animals mentally and physically active and “express natural, species-appropriate behaviors.”
“This particular enrichment item was a small piece of wood with small holes for food and treats such as honey and raisins,” the zoo said in a statement.
Chimene Grant, the zoo’s vice president of marketing, said in a video statement that “the zoo’s first responder team attended to (the) guest immediately. They provided care for her, they provided ambulance services which was not accepted, and the patient was released to her own care. The safety and care of our guests is of utmost importance.”
Grant said “every aspect” of the incident is being reviewed “to ensure we address any and all concerns.”
Joel Hamilton, vice president and general curator for the zoo, said his team would be “looking at how this can be tightened up to ensure that this doesn’t happen again in the future.”
“I’m still kind of shaken up,” Cressy said. “I’m still experiencing pain in the back of my neck, where the lump is.”
She and her family maintain that the zoo did not offer to call an ambulance.
“They did a report, they did my vitals, they didn’t offer to take me to the hospital or anything, they just told me where the nearest hospital was,” Cressy said, adding that she spent six hours in two hospitals.
The zoo told WWL the block of wood was not in the gorilla enclosure the day after the incident.