A prominent South Carolina Republican says he’s sorry for comparing First Lady Michelle Obama to a gorilla.

Commenting on reports of an escaped gorilla at the Columbia zoo Friday, longtime GOP activist Rusty DePass wrote on Facebook, “I’m sure it’s just one of Michelle’s ancestors – probably harmless.”

The comment was first reported by S.C. political blogger Will Folks on his FITNEWS blog. DePass later told WIS-TV in Columbia, “I am as sorry as I can be if I offended anyone. The comment was clearly in jest.”

On Sunday, he reportedly took down his Facebook page.

Folks, the blogger who broke the story, was quoted in the New York Daily News as saying, “Humor like this is nothing new for South Carolina Republicans.”

Columbia Mayor Bob Coble, a Democrat, called on DePass to apologize properly.

“The comment is reprehensible. There’s nothing funny about it,” he said. “What he needs to do is simply apologize in a straightforward manner.”

DePass is former chairman of the Richland County GOP and was an early backer of George W. Bush. In 2008 he was co-chairman of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign in Richland County.

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