It was an emergency drill to practice procedures at Tenerife’s Loro Parque Zoo in the event an animal escaped.
But the fake emergency turned into a real one after a vet shot a human disguised as an escaped gorilla.
The 35-year-old zoo worker dressed in a gorilla zoo was running around during the drill. The vet who had not been told the exercise was taking place shot the man with a dart gun ammo-ed with enough tranquillizer to take down a 180-kg gorilla.
The worker, who was allergic to the narcotic, was taken to the Hospital Universitario de Canarias in serious condition.
Police first received a tip Thursday night that an animal had escaped.
But it turned out to be a practice drill to get staff ready in case of en emergency. The emergency turned out to be real when the victim slumped to the ground after being shot.
Sources told La Opinion newspaper in Tenerife that charges could be laid. The gun and the sedative were seized.
The zoo has encountered controversy before.
Orca lovers who are intent on freeing Morgan the whale kept at the zoo, on a popular tourist destination island, call the place a Spanish hell hole. An orca attacked and killed a trainer at the zoo in 2009.
There are indications, say animal welfare experts, that Morgan has been abused and is extremely lonely and lethargic. She was first picked up off the coast of the Netherlands in 2010 and shipped to Tenerife in 2011.
Two years earlier the zoo was struck by tragedy when an orca called Keto, born at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, attacked and killed trainer Alexis Martinez, 29.