The acceptable reaction to this photo is an "aww" that slowly escalates into a scream.
Some Animals Are Escape Artists
Even when a zoo is run perfectly, with zero abuse, protesters still have two big objections: 1) "Animals must hate being gawked at all day," and 2) "Animals must really hate being imprisoned." As to the first of those, sure, you value your privacy, and you probably also value your freedom of speech, but that doesn't mean a flamingo values either.
Flamingos care about only two things: fish and being fabulous.
"Most of the animals were pretty indifferent about being looked at unless people irritated them," says Knick. "There were a few that loved attention, though." Those exhibitionist monkeys, for starters, and others. "I remember a yellow crested cockatoo named Charlie that would pretend to ignore you if you talked to it and then fly over to where you were when you started to leave and start chatting away until you came back. Big cats could be creepy fun to watch when toddlers wandered by. If the kid was running back and forth, they'd take up a stalking posture and start tracking them."
Holly Harris/Stone/Getty Images
If you can forget the sound of skull-crunching, it's adorable.
But, Knick says, there's a lot of truth to the animals disliking cages. As proof, he offers Evelyn and Jim, some super-intelligent escape gorillas: "Once Evelyn had Jim lift her up so she could climb out and watch the elephants for half an hour," says Knick. "Jim, on the other hand, prefers just tearing the door off its hinges." The real genius could be Karta the orangutan, who short-circuited her electric fence with a stick, built a ramp with brush, and climbed out. The whole zoo was evacuated out of fear, but when Karta ran into a bigger fence she couldn't cross, she headed back to her cage.
Last we heard, Karta hooked up with a certain warthog, and they've opened their own electrician's shop.
"We had some gibbons on an island in the middle of pretty good-sized pond," says Knick. "The only way to access it was via a bateau that the keeper had to row out to the island every day to drop off food. One day, a new keeper made her first solo trip to the island and forgot to pull the boat completely onshore. The gibbons waited until her back was turned and piled in, forcing her to wade out and grab the towline before they could make it to the mainland."
Had she not acted quickly enough, the fugitives would have been unstoppable, and we'd doubtless be writing this article in Gibberish.
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist, interviewer, and editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ryan Menezes is an editor and interviewer. Follow him on Twitter. Knick doesn't work at the zoo anymore, but he did write this book, vaguely based on what he learned there, and also hosts the Dorque Podcast, which you can find here.
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