Orangutan escapes Australian zoo, gives self up

May 29, 2009

Visitors to Adelaide Zoo were evacuated after a Sumatran orangutan mounted a successful escape bid, the Associated Press reports.

The 137-lb female short-circuited an electric fence by jamming a stick into its power supply, before fashioning a makeshift ladder and scaling the walls of her enclosure.

Karta the orang utan.  You may sleep safe at night.

Karta the orang utan. You may sleep safe at night.

Karta, 27, remained atop the fence for half an hour before deciding to return to captivity.

“I think when she actually got out and realized … she shouldn’t be there, so then she’s actually hung onto the wall and dropped back into the exhibit,” zoo curator Peter Whitehead told reporters.

The zoo was evacuated as a precautionary measure, and vets armed with tranquilizer guns stood by in case things turned nasty.

Zoos South Australia’s Conservation Psychologist Dr Carla Litchfield told ABC’s PM programme that the pongid was probably searching for her mate Pusung, who died last month from a respiratory infection.

“It’s very possible she was looking for Pusung because to her he’s missing and perhaps he’s around here somewhere. That’s possibly what was going through her head but of course we can’t see into their heads and we can’t ask them to tell us,” Dr Lichfield said.