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Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Zoo Houdinis

A warning to any would-be escapee tigers.
Some zoos in Japan and China, run annual animal escape drills. Apparently inhabitants absconding from enclosures isn't that unusual and a bit of planning is a great idea. 

A Tokyo's Ueno Zoo employee poses as a meandering zebra. 
The events are an obvious draw for visitors.

A zoo drill for managing the escape of costumed individuals.

During the 2016 drill at the Tokyo's Ueno Zoo, a zoo employee pretends to leave the zebra pen after a hypothetical earthquake.

Zoo employees getting down to business.

The zebra feigned an assault as an employee experienced a fake heart attack.

The fugitive stumbles and falls after a simulated tranquilizer shot.  
Police and medical response teams also participate in the drills.

The 2015 drill involved a two person zebra. 

The costuming has improved and the scenarios have become more complication. 

I have no idea what animal is being contained or why the military is involved. 
An escape drill at a zoo in Shanxi province, China. 

12 remarkable zoo breakouts that ended without complete disaster.

The bird from Kansas is the one on the right with less pink than his companion.
Prior to having his wings clipped, an African flamingo flew away from the Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas. 

Eight years later, the five-foot tall bird, still wearing the zoo leg band, was spotted at the Texas Gulf Coast. He has taken up with a flamingo from the nature reserve in Mexico.

Juan the bear contemplating his options. 

Juan, a spectacled bear, maneuvered a tree trunk in his Berlin Zoo pen and was able to clear the fence of his pen. He went straight to the playground and tried out the equipment. The employees distracted Juan with a bicycle and the keeper successfully tranquilized him. 

Postcard from Fleishhacker Zoo, now the San Francisco Zoo

In 1964, the local police called a zookeeper at the Fleishhacker Zoo. The police had captured the 13 missing buffalo. The staff were not aware of any missing buffalo. The police called back five hours later. The missing pygmy hippo had been spotted on a nearby road. The staff were not aware of any missing hippos. A third call came in when the missing agouti, a large South American rodent was located. 

The zoo director announced to the press that he would review the zoo's security.

The Tokyo penguin eluding capture even when being pursued by the Japan Coast Guard.

A young penguin spent three months waddling around Tokyo. The city was taken with the little bird and hundreds of calls reporting possible sitings were received. He was finally captured and per staff, had "been living quite happily in the middle of Tokyo Bay."

Penguin 459 was named Leona after returning from her adventure. 

At the M√ľnster Zoo in Germany, an young penguin meandered into the lions' den. The lions were taking advantage of sheltered housing and apparently didn't notice the intrusion. It took the staff a day to lure the little bird out with a trail of herring. 

An extremely rare black tiger, or melanistic tiger was born to a white tiger 
at the Nandankanan Zoological Park in India. 

The Nandankanan Zoological Park in India is known for their tiger breeding program and several of the big cats have been born with rare color variants. 

A tiger escape drill at the Chengdu Zoo in the Sichuan province.

A wild Bengal tiger wandered into the park, attracted to a captive female. Rather than attempt to capture and remove him, zookeepers were able to coax the randy cat into the female's enclosure.

A month he scaled the 18 foot security wall and returned to the forrest. Perhaps the zoo needed some additional training. 

The two men who released Reggie the gator, one a former cop, 
explained that he was just too hard to handle. 
No kidding.    

A six foot gator named Reggie was dumped in an urban lake in Los Angeles. After two years, $180,000 in expenses, and a foot longer, Reggie was finally captured. The Los Angeles Zoo took him in. Days later, he was discovered lounging on a loading dock before the zoo opened. The zoo added additional height to the five foot wall.

The LA Zoo opened in 1966

In the late 90s, the Los Angeles Zoo had a history of mismanagement, deteriorating infrastructure and at least 35 animal escapes in a five year period. The simian habitat was originally designed for bears and gorillas Evelyn and Jim were not having it. 

Jim absconded once by ripping a door off its track and once by jumping straight over a twelve foot wall. 

Evelyn the gorilla once swatted a zoo visitor on the butt after escaping.  

Evelyn was more inventive and made it out at least six times including live helicopter coverage of Evelyn picking flowers, searching for snacks and checking out the giraffes. 

The zoo opened a new Campo Gorilla Reserve in 2007, resolving the breakouts. 

Request for assistance apprehending a kangaroo on the run
(not Jack, Mick or Skippy)
in Lauenhagen, Germany

A wild boar and fox helped the kangaroos escape from a wildlife park near Frankfurt Germany. Three kangaroos, Jack, Mick and Skippy found a hole dug under the interior fence by a local fox. One of the three became entrenched and was left behind. The other two slipped under the exterior fence utilizing a hole dug by a wild boar. They were returned after, "A very fit policewoman hurled herself onto the kangaroo."

Frank Buck brought over 100,000 animals to the US
and stared in several films depicting his adventures
and fights to death with wild beasts.  

In the1930's, Frank Buck ran a large animal attraction on Long Island. His housed several exotic animals including 570 Rhesus monkeys. A careless maintenance man and a misplaced plank allowed the breakout of almost 200 monkeys. By dusk, 30 had returned on their own and Buck made a public offer to provide a free park pass to anyone who caught and returned a monkey. 

Fu Manchu was awarded an honorary membership in the American Association of Locksmiths.

Fu Manchu, an orangutan in Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, was a remarkable escape artist. Twice he was found outside the enclosure, with his female companion and three children. The zookeepers became diligent about checking locks. However, Fu Manchu and family were found on the roof of the exhibit enjoying the sun.
Finally, the orangutan was observed taking a wire out of his mouth and tripping the latch of one of the doors. Removing all the available wires kept the family behind the door. 

Ken Allen, a 29-year-old orangutan died in 2000 from cancer. 

Ken Allen, born at the San Diego Zoo, was named after zookeeper Ken Willingham and security officer Ben Allen. In the nursery, he dismantling his crib and unscrewing every light bulb he could reach.
When free, Ken would "peacefully stroll around the zoo looking at other animals."

In the 1980s, Ken managed to climb out of his pen several times and taught his fellow simians how to breakout. Zookeepers were at a loss and even dressed as tourists to try and observe the maneuver. Ken, referred to as Hairy Houdini, wasn't fooled and the escapes occurred at other times.

Finally, rock climbers discovered tiny cracks and imperfections on the walls which the orangutans were able to use as finger and hand holds. The walls were smoothed and the outings ended. 

Ken remained enormously popular and played a part in rethinking zoo improvements and animal treatment.

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