Escape From Zoo



Bokito the Gorilla, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Bokito, a male Western Gorilla, became the subject of considerable media coverage after he escaped from a Rotterdam zoo in 2007 causing several incidents. The gorilla jumped over the ditch which separated his enclosure form the public and attacked a female visitor, dragging her for tens of meters, biting her and even inflicting bone fractures. As a result of the panic, three more people were injured. Some people tried to barricade themselves in a nearby restaurant, but the violent animal smashed part of a door and gained entry. Finally, Bokito was shot with a sedative dart and recaptured. Following the incident, “Bokito” became a term for a violent person in Dutch language. Also, the word “Bokitoproof” meaning “durable enough to resist the actions of a non-specific extreme situation”, was voted the Dutch language word of the year (“Woord van het jaar”) in 2007.




 Mia the Egyptian Cobra, New York

When the Bronx Zoo  shuttered the exhibit “World of Reptiles” with postings that read “staff observed an adolescent Egyptian cobra missing,” fear spread across New York for the reason the reptile would turn up where it did not belong. Finding the snake was proving more difficult than it has been thought, since it is only about 50 cm long and pencil thin. The snake became a local celebrity, with everyone trying to guess where it was. One devotee even created a faux Twitter account on behalf of the snake, which garnered over 200,000 followers. However, less than a week after the escape, zoo officials found the cobra curled up in the corner of the Reptile House. The cobra was then named Mia, inspired by the phrase “Missing In Action.”




Goldie, golden eagle

A male golden eagle called Goldie caused a nationwide sensation when he escaped from the London Zoo in 1965, while his cage was being cleaned. Despite attempts by firefighters, police and a BBC reporter to catch him, Goldie spent 12 days out of the zoo enthralling the British public. About 5,000 people turned out to see Goldie in action, causing severe traffic jams around Regent’s Park, where Goldie spent most of the time. The free bird even killed a duck in the garden of the American ambassador to Britain and attacked two terriers in the park. The zoo received thousands of calls and letters offering advice for the bird’s capture. There also were two teams of keepers that were tracking his progress using two way radio sets loaned from the Civil Defence. After nearly two weeks, Goldie was finally caught after the deputy head zookeeper tempted him to earth with a dead rabbit. In December 1965, Goldie escaped again, but this time for only four days.




 Rhesus Monkeys, Long Island, New York

In August 1935, a group of about 170 rhesus monkeys escaped from Frank Buck’s Jungle Park near Amityville in Long Island, New York, after a workman accidentally left a plank across a moat that surrounded the exhibit. The free monkeys immediately took their chance to have a great time out of the park. Cavorting around the Long Island Rail Road’s tracks, fifty of the rhesuses even stopped the progress of a locomotive for 5 minutes. At the time the New York Times reported that police were expecting calls from people waking up with monkeys in their homes. Money and season pass to the park were offered to anyone who brought a monkey back.



 Buffalo, Hippopotamus and Agouti, San Francisco


In July 1964, a real mess occurred in the San Francisco zoo (then the Fleishhacker Zoo) when a zookeeper received a call from the police saying they had captured 13 escaped buffalo that zoo director didn’t even know were missing. Few hours later, the zookeeper received another phone call – this time 135 kg pygmy hippopotamus had escaped and took a stroll down a nearby road. After a while, an agouti (a South American rodent) made a run for itself, but it was finally captured after a dramatic chase. At the end of this unusual day, the zoo director said he would review the zoo’s security.





Evelyn the Gorila, Los Angeles

A gorilla called Evelyn escaped her enclosure at the Los Angeles Zoo some four or five times. The infamous gorilla once jump onto another gorilla’s back to hop over the wall. In October 2000, Evelyn had another successful strategy – she used overgrown vines to pull herself out of the exhibit. She had spent one hour wandering around the zoo and attracting the attention of TV news helicopters before she was tranquilized. Evelyn is one of many animals who escaped the Los Angeles zoo. According to the Los Angeles Times, at least 35 animals escaped in the span of half a decade.





Ken Allen the Orangutan, San Diego


Ken Allen, a Bornean orangutan born at the San Diego Zoo, became famous after a successful series of escapes in the 1980′s. The orangutan, nicknamed “the hairy Houdini,” had a fan club and was the subject of T-shirts and bumper stickers. A song titled “The Ballad of Ken Allen” was written about him. During his escapes, Ken Allen never acted violently. He would peacefully stroll around looking at other animals. In an attempt to discover how Ken escaped, the zoo had workers go undercover as tourists, but the clever animal wasn’t fooled. Moreover, following Ken’s lead, other orangutans began escaping from the enclosure. Zoo officials even hired rock climbers whose mission was to find every toe, finger and foothold within the enclosure and spent about $40,000 to eliminate them. “Ken Allen appeals to everyone’s sense of breaking out. The irony of it is that he doesn’t really want to leave. He breaks out, but he doesn’t go anywhere,” psychiatrist and ballad writer Dennis Gersten once said about Ken.





Monkeys, Paris

In 1926, twenty bouncy monkeys living in Le Jardin D’Acclimatation, a children’s amusement park in Paris, escaped into the neighborhood after their enclosure caught fire. The monkeys spent the afternoon climbing over fences and swinging around gleefully in the trees of the nearby park as local residents attempted the recapture.





Leona the Penguin, Germany

The M√ľnster zoo in the Germany was a center of a big drama scene when a little penguin escaped from its enclosure. The adventurous penguin took his chance to explore the wider zoo world but its adventure went wrong when it ended up in the lions’ territory. Fortunately, the lions were asleep and some visitors spotted the penguin before the cats woke up. It took keepers a day to get the baby penguin out of the lions’ den, luring it out with a trail of herrings. Since that day, the penguin formerly known as No. 459 has been called Leona.





Slippery the Sea Lion, Ontario

Slippery has became world‘s most famous sea lion after he escaped from the Storybook Gardens Zoo in London, Ontario, on the morning of June 17, 1958. The sea lion attempted to reach his former home in the Pacific. He swam along the Thames River to Lake St. Clair, and down the Detroit River to Lake Erie, where he was finally caught three weeks later in Sandusky, Ohio. On the day Slippery was returned to London, 50, 000 cheering citizens greeted him on his way to Storybook  Gardens. Slippery lived another ten years at the zoo as the resident celebrity. After he died in 1967, a statue was erected near his pool. Over the years, there has been a children’s book written about him and a documentary done on him.

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