A San Diego Zoo employee has been formally accused of repeated sexual assault on a 15-year-old male gorilla.
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.
“His conduct was clearly inappropriate, reckless and dangerous for the animal as well,” he explained.
“Any sexual activity between animals and employees is strictly prohibited by San Diego Zoo policy,” he added.
San Diego Zoo administrator, Janette Fitzgerald, says Mr. Obwe’bwe may have acted out of despair after learning his wife had left him.
“Some employees had voiced concerns that Mr. Obwe’bwe had recently become uneasily friendly with the animals since his divorce, but I could not expect it was this bad,” she told reporters.
“I am not aware of Gabonese cultural practices but it might also be a cultural thing,” she added.
According to current Californian law, bestiality is classed as a misdemeanor, an offense that is punishable by a maximum six-month county jail sentence and a maximum $1,000 fine.