It’s not quite an escape from Alcatraz, but an orangutan at Greenville Zoo in South Carolina made a daring bid for freedom over the weekend by opening wires in its cage. The incident was captured on camera by a visitor, as shocked onlookers watched.
The male orangutan is called Kumar, and at about 11.30am EDT (4.30pm BST) on Sunday, it broke the wires in the roof of its enclosure and climbed out. It didn’t cause any major problems, but it did chill out up there for a little while. The zoo was put on lockdown until the animal was returned.
"He is, personality wise, just young and curious,” Jeff Bullock from Greenville Zoo told Fox Carolina, who broke the story. “Orangutans are just so smart it’s like a really smart teenager who’s always gotta look for anything they can get into.”
The escape was captured on camera by a visitor called Emilie S. The zoo remained on lockdown for 30 minutes, with visitors moved into safe areas like cafes while the orangutan was still on the roof.
Water hoses and fire extinguishers were used to get Kumar back in the cage, with zoo workers then securing the net with padlocks. They had a dart gun ready too, but that wasn’t needed. A female orangutan who was also in the enclosure did not follow Kumar.
In the past, we certainly haven’t been short of stories about escaped animals. June 2016, for example, saw two capybaras escape from Toronto’s High Park Zoo, which spawned a rather hilarious Twitter account. That same zoo had also seen a colorful peacock slip out unnoticed in 2015.
April 2016 also saw an octopus called Inky make a break for it from the National Aquarium in New Zealand. It managed to make it into the Pacific Ocean, so it’s unlikely he’ll be captured again – eliciting imagery of Hank the octopus in Finding Dory.
Somewhat more alarmingly, in January 2017 a scorpion escaped from a passenger’s bag on a train service from London to Edinburgh. It got out and started wandering around the train, with transport police then boarding the train and re-capturing it.
So Kumar joins an impressive list of escaped animals. Thankfully it ended without any animal, orangutan or human, being harmed.