Ape apologist: apes escape because they can

March 17, 2010

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.


Dallas zookeeper disciplined following gorilla escape

February 23, 2010

A keeper at Dallas Zoo has been suspended following the escape of a gorilla, Dallas Morning News and Associated Press report.

A momentary lapse of the unnamed zookeeper’s attention allowed the 180lb beast the freedom of the Gorilla Research Center. The keeper “failed to verify the area was empty before stepping away to gather cleaning equipment,” according to Dallas Zoo Executive Director Gregg Hudson.

Tufani, the 19-year-old great ape, was summarily tranquilized before being carted back to her pen.

Although the massive primate was not afforded the liberty of public areas of the zoo, which was nevertheless closed at the time of her escape, the incident provides an uncomfortable reminder of a previous tragedy at Dallas Zoo.

In 2004, a 14-year-old female gorilla scaled the walls of her encolsure and went on a rampage, leaving three people injured before she was mown down in a hail of police bullets.

AP reports that security measures were “beefed up” following the 2004 incident, but the changes appear to be no remedy for human absent-mindedness.


Motorist alerts plod to charity-running “gorilla”

October 6, 2009

A Leicestershire motorist dialed 999 to report the sighting of a gorilla on the A6, only for police to discover the offending primate was a charity runner in fancy dress, The Daily Fail reports.

Rory Coleman, dressed in his gorilla costume

Jogger Rory Coleman, pictured, told Middle England’s favourite outrage factory: “I wasn’t very far from Twycross Zoo which has a large collection of primates so maybe motorists thought one of them had made a run for it.”

Fingernail-gnawing police, who, I might add, are looking an awful lot younger these days, initially refused to accost the manimal, fearing it might be some kind of swan-roasting asylum seeker hell-bent on depressing house prices in the region.

“I think [the police] twigged I wasn’t an actual gorilla when they saw I was wearing trainers and had a rucksack on my back,” Coleman mused.

A sheepish spokeswoman for Leicestershire police said: “We did receive a call from a member of the public on Wednesday at about 4.30pm who reported seeing a gorilla on the A6 and was concerned for their safety.’