7 Animal Escapes Stories Straight Out Of A Disney Movie
It may sound bizarre, but some animals don't want to be fenced in, turned into sandwiches, or forced to perform for preteens who'd rather be playing Minecraft. And so, when the right circumstances present themselves, they'll take matters into their own hooves and escape the physical and metaphysical fences holding them in, charging off into the world and inspiring us all with their carefree spirit of "not wanting to die." Here are seven times an animal wormed its way out of captivity and straight into our hearts (and possibly a hit all-ages movie in a few years).
A Flamingo Escaped From A Zoo In Kansas, Then Turned Up Eight Years Later In Texas With Another Escaped Flamingo
In 2005, an African flamingo escaped from a zoo in Wichita, Kansas after employees forgot to clip his wings and the big dork decided to use them. You'd think it would be hard to lose track of what's essentially a brightly colored, horribly misshapen swan on stilts, but this flamingo managed a cross-country road trip, Kerouac-style. (No word on how his poetry turned out.) The flamingo was eventually found eight years later living in the Gulf of Mexico, with his leg band from the zoo still attached. On the way, he had been spotted by birdwatchers in Louisiana and Wisconsin before settling in an inlet off Port Lavaca, Texas, shacked up with another flamingo who had bolted from a colony in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
Why did the flamingo leave the friendly, affordable confines of Wichita? The zookeeper who lost him explained, "As soon as he had the chance, he flew out of here. His instincts are honed to do that." The zookeeper then presumably added, "But zoos are definitely awesome and not cruel, and you should totally come to ours. Cough. Did I just say the word cough? Ignore that. Yay zoos."
Japan's "Penguin 337" Pulls Off A Daring Aquarium Escape, Eludes The Coast Guard, And Lives The High Life In Tokyo Bay
PENGUIN 337 -- not just Pixar's upcoming foray into animal dystopia, but also the name of a penguin from Tokyo's Sea Life Park. It managed to jump a rock twice its height, slip through a gap in a seven-foot-tall fence, and elude authorities for 82 days. There's gotta be at least five movies' worth of whimsical adventures and friendship lessons in there.
In the meantime, keepers were dispatched daily to search for the penguin, and it was spotted "approximately 30 times" by fishermen and locals. And yet 337 remained on the lam for almost three months, taunting its pursuers by frolicking in the open seas, binge-eating wild fish, and achieving cult status like some Penguin Dillinger captivating Depression-era Sea Life Park. Authorities were shocked to learn that the captivity-raised animal was able to thrive in the wild for so long, the same way they were likely shocked to learn that they couldn't keep a two-foot-tall flightless waddling bird inside a perimeter fence.
Ol' 337 was finally apprehended by two keepers after some snitch saw it swimming in a river and tipped off the fuzz. There was no word on whether or not the fugitive and its pursuers had developed a grudging mutual respect for one another at the time of the climactic apprehension.
Scientists Gave Research Monkeys An "Enrichment Tool," Which They Used To Escape And Run Around San Antonio
The Texas Biomedical Research Facility And Definitely Not Shady Lab From The Beginning of Every Outbreak Movie made a classic workplace flub. They gave four baboons a 55-gallon barrel as an "enrichment tool," and the monkeys promptly used the barrel to jump out of their open-air enclosure and ditch the facility. Three of the baboons proceeded to run along the road near the lab and scare a bunch of drivers, while the fourth inexplicably went back to the facility, likely after telling his comrades "You guyyyyys, we're gonna get in troubuuuullleee!"
The baboons were rounded up within 30 minutes by an animal control team, but not before taking part in the most intense chase sequence since O.J. Simpson.
It was a bad idea to fill with that barrel with Pepsi.
The Research Facility also issued a press release assuring people "These animals were not infected, as they were not on an active study nor used in infectious disease research." Well good! That unprompted assurance that THE ESCAPED BABOONS WEREN'T INFECTED WITH ANY DEADLY DISEASES should put everyone at ease.
The scientists have since removed the barrel and replaced it with a far safer enrichment tool: a huge cake with a nail file in it.
A Cat Escapes From Her Carrier, Lives In (And Over) JFK Airport For Eight Days
In a turn of events straight out of pages 3-4 of a children's book, a four-year-old tabby cat named Pepper recently slipped out of her owner's carrying case at JFK Airport right as her owner was about to fly to China to start a new job. The heartbroken owner took the flight anyway, figuring Pepper would eventually turn up. And she did. Eight whole days later.
In the interim, the cat had managed to work her way into the terminal's "interior superstructure," which is "not accessible to humans." You know, all that crap hanging from the ceiling.
Pepper lived on her own for a full week, occasionally coming down to look for an outlet and to order $17.95 tuna wraps on touchscreens. Port Authority officials launched a full-on search for the cat, but failed in their attempts to lure it with food-filled "safe traps" and typing on their laptops while yelling "I'm getting lots of work done!"
Finally, they enlisted the help of Nuan Tang, a friend of Pepper's owner, who called to the cat by her native Mandarin name ("Dai Meng") and offered her food. Fortunately, the cat recognized Tang's voice and came down to say 'sup. For having to endure keeping herself alive in the terminal superstructure for eight full days, the airport offered Pepper an $8 voucher for a closed Panda Express.
Herpes-Carrying Monkeys Are Randomly Running Loose Around Central Florida
Back in the 1930s, an ambitious zoo park entrepreneur mailed himself some monkeys to add a "monkey island" highlight to his Florida jungle cruise attraction. Unfortunately, the monkeys weren't that enthusiastic about his business plan, so they swam off the island and escaped into the wild, where they thrived for years. Also, most of the monkeys carried herpes B and were prone to attacking humans. But the story gets better!
In 2015, a rhesus monkey was spotted running along the roof of an elementary school in Lady Lake, a town 20 miles away from Silver Springs, where the original 1930s monkey escape occurred. Residents in the nearby The Villages (a decadent retirement community, not a stakes-raising M. Night Shyamalan sequel) have also spotted macaques in their own backyards. Florida is home to some pretty insane stuff/people, but these shouldn't be among them.
Essentially, one guy's ill-fated attempt to add some buzz to his cheesy Orlando-area safari ride has, through a very traceable butterfly effect, resulted in thriving wild populations of monkeys 80 years later. And they've spread to multiple towns many miles away from the original park. And they're now approaching schools and residences. And they still carry herpes B. And herpes B can cause brain damage and death in people.
But anyway, come to Florida! The thriving bloodline of escaped people-hating herp-apes is but one of MANY things that might attack you ... with fun!
A Giant Tortoise Escaped From A Zoo And Was Missing For Two Weeks, Even Though It Never Went Too Far
A 120-pound giant tortoise named Abuh was allowed to roam free on the grounds of Japan's Shibukawa Zoological Park, but park officials must've underestimated its blinding-quick stealth and ability to do flips and shit, because Abuh somehow escaped from the zoo and vanished. Tortoises can survive weeks at a time without food or water, so there was no telling where this wily jailbird would show up next. The streets of Bogota? The French Riviera? Living out its life in no-questions-asked solitude in a small village in Nepal?
After a pulling-out-all-the-stops search that hopefully involved round-the-clock helicopter surveillance, a total shutdown of the country's major airports, and flagging the tortoise's passport, zoo officially finally nailed Abuh ... sitting in some shrubbery about 450 feet away from where it started. Dang. Just a couple "entire timespan of the Universe"s away from the state line.
No word on how many motorcycles the tortoise had to hijack to make it that far, but seven seems like a fair estimate.
And The Most Stealthy, Elusive Escape Artists of Them All? Cows
The absolute masters of the "viral animal escape story" are one of the least likely animals you'd expect to be slippery little devils. Granted, there are lots of cows in captivity all over the world, so a few are bound to escape, but some of the recent cow escape stories stretch way beyond "It snuck through a fence" and into the stuff of legend.
Earlier this year, a cow in southern Poland was on its way to the slaughterhouse when it decided to change its destination to Splitsville. It rushed a metal gate, broke through, escaped, and swam out to an island in the middle of a lake and stayed there. When firefighters approached the island by boat to recapture the cow, it strode back into the water and swam to a peninsula 150 feet away. Eventually, the impressed farmer gave up and let the cow live out its life in peace. He even makes sure the cow has food now, likely fearing it'll show up next to his bed one night and enact revenge.
A different cow in Poland's Bialowieza Forest slipped away from its farm and was found trying to pass itself off as a bison months later:
And because Poland isn't the only country with super-intelligent cows driven by a yearning wanderlust, last Christmas, a cow escaped a Nativity scene in Philadelphia twice in one day. It wandered off from the traditional Baby Jesus cosplay event outside a church in Philly's Old City neighborhood and made its way up I-95, where state troopers boxed the animal in with cruisers and one of them lassoed it. They then returned it to the Nativity scene, where it clearly wanted to be, and it ran away again, this time making its way into an underground parking garage, where another police standoff ensued. The cow was fired after that.
Interestingly enough, it seems that it's only when cows escape, run amok, and become viral sensations that we suddenly ascribe human characteristics to them and empathize with their will to live and/or not have to be in Nativity scenes.
Or the cows are cunningly sinister, and they're coming for us.
If you've got a small furry friend, get them the kind of cage they won't want to escape from.
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For more, check out 6 Insane Pet Journeys That Put Disney To Shame and 5 Heartwarming Stories That Are Also Totally Hilarious.
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