Fact Check

Was a Zookeeper Arrested for Molesting a Gorilla?

A story claimed a San Diego Zoo employee was accused of sexually assaulting a 500-pound male gorilla.

Published Dec 7, 2017

 (ronnie newman / Shutterstock.com)
Image Via ronnie newman / Shutterstock.com
A 29-year-old San Diego Zoo intern was arrested and charged with attempting sexually assault a gorilla.

In late November 2017, several unreliable web sites published identical articles reporting that a zookeeper at the San Diego Zoo had been arrested and charged with sexual assault on a 15-year-old male gorilla.

The story appears to have originated on World News Daily Report, which reported:

Akimbo Obwe’bwe, a 29-year-old zoo intern originally from Gabon, was found guilty of feeding sedatives to Big George, one of the zoo’s top attractions, and partaking in sexual activity with the sedated animal.

According to unreleased video footage, Obwe’bwe proceeded to insert the animal’s penis inside his mouth for several minutes but apparently underestimated the strength of the medication, leading the animal to wake up and lash back at the zookeeper, alerting other employees.

“Although Mr. Obwe’bwe claims the sexual relationship was consensual, video footage clearly shows he attempted to sedate the animal,” Adam Simmons, a San Diego Zoo spokesman told reporters.

We found no mention of such an arrest in any mainstream news source, however, including the San Diego Union-Tribune, which frequently reports on major and minor happenings at the zoo. This should not come as a surprise, given that WNDR describes its content as "satirical," and virtually everything on the web site is fiction:

All characters appearing in the articles in this website -- even those based on real people -- are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any persons, living, dead, or undead is purely a miracle.

Bestiality appears to be a favorite theme of the WNDR staff, whose previous articles include fabricated reports of humans sexually assaulting octopuses, alligators, and orangutans. Although some might find them repetitive and unfunny, these lurid stories presumably serve their commercial purpose of attracting clicks and earning advertising dollars.

Parenthetically, the mugshot used in the WNDR article was a purposely distorted image of a black male that has been used on racist websites for years to insult and demean people of color.

David Emery is a West Coast-based writer and editor with 25 years of experience fact-checking rumors, hoaxes, and contemporary legends.