Orangutan causes evacuation at Adelaide Zoo
AN “ingenious” 62 kilogram orangutan short circuited electrical wires and climbed a fence using a makeshift ladder in an aborted escape attempt from Adelaide Zoo today.
The elaborate plot by 27-year-old Karta got her to within metres of the public, and resulted in the closure of the zoo on one of its busiest days of the year.
The alarm was raised by a member of the public about 11am.
Zoo curator Peter Whitehead said Karta had twisted a stick into hot wires that encircled her enclosure, short circuiting the wires and allowing her to enter a vegetated area near the concrete and glass fence that separated her from the public.
She then piled up sticks, grass and plant roots and used them to climb onto the fence.
”You're talking about an animal that's highly intelligent, Mr Whitehead said.
”We've had issues with her before in normal day to day operations where she tries to outsmart the keepers.
”So in this case she's decided to make a ladder and try to get out of her exhibit.”
Mr Whitehead said Karta was on the fence for about half an hour before climbing back down into the exhibit.
Veterinary staff had been on standby with tranquiliser guns but these had not been necessary.
”I think when she actually got out and realised where she was ... she's realised she shouldn't be there so then she's actually hung onto the wall and dropped back into the exhibit,” Mr Whitehead said.
He said although she was not an aggressive animal and was always “quite a few metres” from the public, the zoo had been evacuated as a safety precaution.
A spokeswoman for the zoo later said it was unlikely the gates would reopen today.
Mr Whitehead said there would be a “thorough review” of the morning's events, and it was likely some of the vegetation in the enclosure would be removed.
Following the escape attempt Karta was being enticed into her night enclosure and away from the public viewing area.
This task was taking longer than anticipated and was the cause of the longer than expected closure of the zoo gates.peMr Whitehead said orangutans were not generally an aggressive animal and Karta was often used to interact with the public in behind-the-scene zoo tours, although there was always mesh between her and the public.
”She's an ingenious animal,” he said
One of the San Diego Zoo’s most famous orangutans was Ken Allen, a Bornean orangutan Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus known for his creative escape techniques. He would unscrew bolts with his fingers, reach around to unlatch things, climb up a steep incline by the back of his enclosure to slip over a wall, and so on.
Every time keepers figured out one of his escape routes, he would discover a new one. He never seemed to mind being led back into his enclosure"he just seemed to enjoy the challenge of finding a new way out! Ken Allen became a San Diego Zoo legend, with his own fan club and T-shirts, bumper stickers, and songs created in his honor. Many people were saddened when this gentle, mischievous ape developed cancer and passed away in December 2000.
So cool. This is just plain wonderful.
Well, except for the cages/enclosures and all that. (I'm not anti SD zoo, just wishing progress.)
I had a flitting connection to zoo design, within a firm, don't get me going.