Monday, April 1, 2013

Orangutans vs so-called experts

At the Frankfurt Zoo, they've had to post a security guard at their orangutan exhibit to keep an eye on a troublemaker:
The 20-year-old orang-utan called Sirih, has become so good at making holes in the fence around her enclosure, and digging up the water and heating pipes that the zoo has stationed a security man to watch over her and raise the alarm at the first sign of trouble.
 Zookeeper are worried that the younger orangs may learn from her, but they're oddly unconcerned about what her ultimate goal may be:
"She's not trying to break out, that is not her aim, she just messes with various things, including the fence, but also the water pipes and heating, and she causes damage. She uses branches and whatever else she can find as tools," Christine Kurrle, zoo spokeswoman told The Local.
So she's taking apart the fence, but she's not trying to break out? Obviously these people know less about orangutans than they ought to. Never mind the professional literature, if they'd read my book, they'd know that orangutans are reknowned breakout artists:

-At the Audubon zoo in New Orleans, an orang named Berani escaped his exhibit using only a T-shirt: he scaled a ten foot wall, stretched the shirt out and wrapped it around the hotwires, swung himself over the wires and climbed the railing.

-At a zoo in Australia, an orangutan disabled the hotwires surrounding her exhibit with a stick, then made a pile of leaf litter and debris and climbed over the wall.

-One zoo orang that escaped from its cage into the service area grabbed a floor squeegee when discovered and started using it, apparently figuring the keepers would believe he was nothing but a big, orange, hairy employee cleaning up at the end of his shift.

-Perhaps the most famous case, Fu Manchu made several escapes a few decades ago at the Omaha Zoo. Positive they’d locked all the doors—and on the verge of being fired for carelessness—keepers set up a secret watch. They saw him pull a door back from its frame, then take out a piece of wire hidden in his cheek and use it to trip the latch. He’d bent the wire into a comfortable shape to hide in his mouth, and had been carrying it around like a set of keys to use whenever he felt like getting out on a nice day.

The Frankfurt zoo's long term plan is to get rid of the troublemaker - they're planning to move Sirih to another zoo, allegedly for a breeding program. Let's hope the keepers at the next place are readers of this blog.

Orang caught using a tool by Flickr user Tambako the Jaguar.

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