The Great Esc-ape?
Seven chimps made a daring escape bid from their enclosure at Kansas Zoo recently by using a fallen branch as a ladder. One of the chimps leaned the branch against the wall of their enclosure and climbed to the top of the enclosure wall then beckoned another 6 chimps to join him in his bid for freedom. Of the 12 chimps who reside at Kansas Zoo, five chose not to escape, probably because they know they’re on to a good thing with a comfortable enclosure and regular mealtimes.
Despite zoo staff doing regular checks of the animal enclosures for fallen tree limbs, the ring leader chimp apparently pulled a large limb from a tree and then used his ingenuity to transform the branch into an escape ladder. The primates didn’t come into contact with any of the zoo’s visitors as they escaped only as far as a keepers’ area that out of bounds to the public.
The zoo went into an hour long lock down after Director, Randy Wisthoff ordered a Code Red response to the incident. Visitors to the zoo were protected in various buildings that kept them safe from the runaway chimps while a recapture was staged in exciting scenes that lasted an hour.
Keepers were gathered round to help with the recapture of the offending chimps. They offered lettuce, carrots, celery and fruit as tempting bait to lure the chimps back to safety – all to no avail. Zoo staff were left racking their brains for something tempting enough to recapture the chimps and eventually came up with the idea of using Maltesers. That did the trick – the apes were unable to resist the lighter than air chocolate snacks and were herded into an indoor enclosure with the promise of chocolate.
The zoo’s management has now ordered the removal of all large branches and logs from the chimps’ enclosure to prevent a similar incident in future. A full security review has been undertaken and security has been beefed up to foil any more wanna-be escapees. For full footage of the chimps’ ingenuous jailbreak, check out the video on:
While we all know that what differentiates mankind from the animal kingdom is the use of tools, it looks like these chimps were smart enough to turn their hand to using a ladder. We’ve seen other instances of creatures using tools they find in nature, for example chimps using a stick to poke into a hole in the bark to gather ants to eat.
However, don’t worry, although these chimps were clever enough to use a branch as a makeshift ladder, we’re not likely to see them being hired in the construction industry. Their sure-footedness and agility would be likely to make chimps great for working at height, but their escaping abilities and love of Maltesers means they’re not quite qualified for the job at hand!