Following Dallas Zoo’s recent embarrassing incident, The Dallas Morning News quizzed Kristen Lukas, who holds the gorilla chair at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.
Dr Lukas is evidently an individual of exquisite taste and subtlety, since her answers betray a close reading of these pages. Asked whether gorillas are more likely than other species to spring from confinement, she answered:
I am not aware of any data that would [support that conclusion]. I am aware of a wide range of animals that have breached containment in a zoo, including birds, turtles, snakes, monkeys, carnivores, insects and hoof stock, in addition to apes. You may be aware that 30 chimpanzees escaped a British zoo enclosure last year, for example. I think the evidence to date suggests orangutans [like Pulang and Karta] and are among the most creative escape artists.
When asked to consider what should be done to prevent animal escapes from zoos, Dr Lukas answered:
… things can happen unexpectedly. Equipment can fail, infrastructure can age and human error can lead to opportunities for animals to breach containment. In short: Animals escape because they can.
Read the Q&A in full.
When she is not (allegedly) reading idiotic animal escape blogs in her spare time, Dr Lukas works to understand the behaviour of captive animals — especially primates — with a view to improving their welfare.