The great escape

Humboldt penguin, which escaped from its enclosure in Tokyo Sea Life


Over the years stories come out about animals escaping from their supposed “escape proof enclosures”. This happens more often than you may think, and generally due to keeper error.  Of course the old saying that the grass is always greener on the other side doesn’t normally ring true and unfortunately this is the case for some of these escapees.  Hunger, injuries and even death can be the result for these over-enthusiastic escape artists!
Zoos put in a lot of resources to build the ideal escape proof enclosure, incorporating deep water filled moats, electric fences, high walls, and elaborate security systems.  The challenge for zoos is the balance between natural looking enclosures and secure environs. As you are about to read   maybe the greater challenge is just teaching the keepers to close the gate behind them.  
Here are eight recent examples where animals found that elusive ‘hole in the fence’ – figuratively speaking.  

January 2014 – Chicago Zoo
Blue, a peacock from this US zoo died after escaping from it’s night enclosure and spending 90 minutes in freezing conditions. 

December 2013 – Houston Zoo 
Two baby bears climbed the wall of their enclosure at this zoo, stunning visitors and putting the zoo into alert mode. The bears spent a couple of hours high up in trees before being re-captured.  

June 2013 – Washington National Zoo
Rusty the red panda escaped from his enclosure from this North American zoo and was found in a nearby neighborhood a few hours later with the help of an effective social media campaign. At the time of this post the zoo had no idea how Rusty escaped. 

Rusty on the run – Washington Post

March 2013 – Calgary Zoo

After a keeper failed to close a gate correctly, several lowland gorillas escaped their enclosure and ended up in a kitchen at this Canadian zoo. A keeper was injured during the ordeal but none of the gorillas were harmed.
March 2013 – Pretoria Zoo
One of the world fastest and deadliest snakes, the black mamba, went missing at this South African zoo for over 3 weeks before being recaptured. As of the date of the post – zoo keepers cannot say for certain how the snake escaped.
March 2013 – Chongqing Zoo
Two tigersescaped their enclosure at this Chinese zoo and ran a-muck as the zoo was evacuated. The tigers walked out of an open gate that had been left open by cleaners. Both these big cats were not harmed in their recapture.  
August 2012 – Cologne Zoo
A male tiger called Altai escaped from its enclosure at the German Zoo and killed a 43 year old zoo keeper before being shot dead by other keepers. The tiger escaped through a gate that had not been closed properly – so in this case animal death was caused by human error.
March 2012 – Tokyo Sea Life Park

A one year old humboldt penguin called ‘Penguin 337’ escaped from this Tokyo Park after somehow getting over a 2 meter high fence.  The penguin was free for 11 weeks and was eventually recaptured under a bridge in Tokyo Bay. The penguin was in good health when recaptured.

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