5 Of The Greatest Escape Artists Ever (Were Animals)
We already know how terrifyingly intelligent animals can be, and it's a somewhat sobering thought to learn how some individuals dedicate their intelligence to the sole mission of getting the hell out of whatever enclosure we humans have deemed secure enough to keep them in. Especially when they're using methods that, to be perfectly honest, would have never occurred to us.
The Lock-Picking Orangutan
The staff at the Omaha zoo should have known they were asking for trouble when they gave a baby orangutan the name of evil criminal mastermind Fu Manchu. You're just giving him something to live up to, and this little guy nearly got his keepers fired over their inability to keep their orangutan in his cage.
Look at him, flaunting his nudity over all of us who have to wear pants.
Happily playing in their sun-drenched enclosure one minute, the staff were amazed to find Fu and his chums hanging out in some trees outside of their intended habitat a short while later. Finding a door to the exhibit left open, the head keeper figured some staff member had left it unlocked. Then it happened again. And again. The keeper was furious and was about to fire a staff member for failing to do the rather fundamental zoo task of keeping the animals from just leaking out all over the grounds.
"He's getting away. And he stole my bike!"
Finally, somebody happened to be watching when Fu Manchu proceeded to do something no earthly primate should know how to do. First he climbed through the air vents to a dry moat below. Then, he yanked on the door until he could force a little bit of a gap. At that point he slipped a piece of wire through, and used to unhook the latch keeping the door locked.
"Come out to the zoo, we'll get together, have a few laughs..."
Let's let that sink in for a minute.
Within 24 hours of witnessing the orangutan's escape method, staff noticed something shiny sticking out of Fu Manchu's mouth. It was the piece of wire he had used to slip the latch of the door, bent to fit between his gum and lip so he could keep it hidden between escapes.So, stop and ask yourself: Would you even have thought of that?
Zoo officials report that Fu Manchu is currently learning how to carve a shiv.
The Monkey Catapult
The Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University in Japan is regarded as one of the world's leading facilities on all things simian. Given their expertise, you'd think they would know at the very least how to keep their research subjects on the general premises.
Giving them planes may have been a mistake.
But in July 2010, a group of 15 monkeys were found sitting outside their enclosure, which by the way, was surrounded by a 17-foot-high electric fence. Studying their escape method confirmed a long-held belief that real monkeys function exactly the same as cartoon monkeys.
Velociraptors ain't got shit on our furry cousins.
Like any good electric monkey fence, climbing over it and tunneling under were both impossible. The monkeys realized their only option was to go over the damn thing, and in the most ridiculous manner possible. They climbed the trees about 10 feet away from the fence, bent back the branches, and used the tension to catapult themselves over the high voltage barrier to freedom.
Once they were out, however, the monkeys talked amongst themselves and decided that living in a posh 5-Star resort was at least marginally better than the parking lot. Some returned on their own, and the rest were found "hanging around" near the building, and came back when "bribed with peanuts."
"You may take our lives, but you'll never take... our FRE- oh hell, are those peanuts?"
Chuva the Macaw Hitches a Ride
In April 2009, staff at the Greater Vancouver Zoo panicked when they noticed they had misplaced one of their exhibits, a six-year-old blue and gold macaw (which is a bird, in case you're not up to speed on your zoology) called Chuva, who had a chip on her shoulder and a reputation for being rather "bitey."
Taking advantage of a beautiful spring day, Chuva and her feathered friends were taken from their usual enclosure and allowed to roam the outdoor parrot gardens found at the front of the zoo. The birds' wings had been clipped to ensure they weren't able to take a flight right out of there, so when the keepers realized one of their charges was missing, they weren't too worried because honestly, birds don't run worth a shit.
With some notable exceptions.
But they couldn't find her anywhere, and finally issued a statement beseeching the local community to report any sightings of their AWOL parrot, adding, "We looked everywhere, and couldn't find her, and couldn't find her, and couldn't find her." We assume the zoo was trying to convey that despite searching everywhere once, they couldn't find her three times over, thus conveying that Chuva was a massive 300 percent missing.
Not surprising really, given that Chuva was already some distance away from the zoo and rolling down the highway. Despite her wings being clipped, the parrot had had managed to sneak out of the gardens and into the parking lot, where she hopped aboard a visiting RV and hitched a ride for some 20 miles.
"Alright, Chuva. This is your shot. Your moment.
The zoo staff was delighted to receive the call from the somewhat surprised owners of the vehicle, who found the stowaway when they stopped at a shopping mall. Chuva now presumably spends most of her days ensnaring the attention of the younger birds with ever-more exaggerated tales of her great escape.
"Yeah, I killed 'em both. And a cop. If it hadn't been for the SWAT team, I'd be in Mexico by now."
The Bear and the Improvised Canoe
If Steve McQueen was a bear, he would be called Juan and he would live in a zoo in Berlin. In August 2004, Juan decided he'd had enough of life inside his enclosure and made the headlines for his impressive bid for freedom.
Maybe he just wanted a stiff beer and some bratwurst?
The combination of a moat and wall was supposed to make for an impassable barrier around Juan's home. What his keepers didn't take into account were the decorative logs floating around the moat. The adventurous bear looked out and saw what he thought of as a flotilla of rafts. Boarding one of the logs, he proceeded to paddle his way across the moat.
Security camera footage of the escape.
At that point it was just a matter of scaling up a wall, over a fence and heading for freedom. And by "freedom" we mean he headed right towards the kids' playground located near the bear exhibit. Hey, good job putting the merry-go-round next to the bears, zoo planners!
"Next, we'll put in a glass-bottom daycare right above the crocodile tank."
This led to one of two reactions from the parents: blind panic in an effort to remove their children from the vicinity of the bear, or ignoring their offspring completely while they snapped away trying to get the perfect shot of the intrepid escapee on their cell phones. Yes, that happened.
"Oh, and I got this video of the bear gnawing on little Hansel's skull. It's in 720p!"
Thirteen children were mauled to death. Ha, no, not really. This wouldn't be all that lighthearted of a story if so. Thanks to his mainly vegetarian menu, Juan found no temptation in the little children McNuggets running around the playground. Besides, he was too busy planning out the next phase of his escape.
What would that involve? Well, let's just say that this is not a Photoshop:
Sadly, keepers closed in and shot him full of tranquilizer darts before he could figure out how to work the pedals. The 242-pound bear was returned safely to his enclosure and they fished all of the logs out of his moat so he couldn't try it again. It was reported that a book of matches, a ball of string and a set of falsified documents were found hidden in his fur coat.
OK, that last part might be a lie.
Ken Allen the Orangutan is Smarter Than All of Us
Despite sounding like the manager of your local grocery store, Ken Allen is in fact the closest thing to a superstar the orangutan kingdom has to offer. The orangutan minders knew they would have their work cut out for them right from the start, as Ken kept them on their toes by repeatedly unscrewing every nut and bolt he could find in the nursery. As Ken grew older, the zookeepers did their best to ensure his exhibit was escape proof.
However on June 13, 1985, the teenager showed them who the wiser primate was when he made his first successful bid for freedom and was found mingling happily with the crowd on the wrong side of his enclosure.
The keepers were baffled as to how he had gotten out. They knew he was good--he had previously been seen climbing a freaking ladder made from random materials found in his exhibit--but there was no evidence that any such device had been used this time.
So the zoo took every precaution they could think of--higher walls, smoother surfaces--to ensure there were no handholds available. They even introduced new females into the enclosure, hoping to turn his wanderlust into plain old dong-driven lust. But to no avail. With each new barrier placed in his way, Ken still managed to find his way out again and again.
Perhaps if the females had been orangutans...
They eventually put extra surveillance on him to try to figure out his method, but the smart bastard always knew when they were watching him (somehow). Staff actually had to go undercover, disguising themselves as tourists, hoping a gaudy shirt and wig would be enough to convince the orangutan that it was safe to make a break for it. Nothing doing. He always knew to wait until they were gone.
Once, he even used the surveillance to his advantage, when he enlisted the help of fellow orangutan Vicki after workmen left a crow bar in the exhibit. He looked over the tool, and threw it off to the side, as if disinterested. While the keepers had their eyes on him, Vicki picked up the crow bar and got busy prying open the molding between two glass panels.
A newly installed electric fence did keep him from getting all the way out, and staff figured this was the end of their escaping orangutan problems. Then, one day, they were doing work around the enclosure that meant they had to shut down the power. Somehow, Ken Allen knew. He went for it and, despite the wider moat and smoother walls built to contain him in such an event, he had no problems finding his way out--for the fifth time.
Life finds a way.
His escape attempts led to him becoming the zoo's most famous ape, with his own range of merchandise carried by the zoo shop. Great job by marketing spinning the "our animals are desperate to escape the hell that is our zoo" thing into a positive.
For more animals that need to be closely monitored, check out 5 Diabolical Animals That Out-Witted Humans. Or check out some humans that rival these animals, in 6 Insane Prison Escapes That Actually Happened.
And stop by Linkstorm (Updated 08.25.10) to see videos of Brockway trying to escape his dog cage.
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