When one hears about animals escaping from their zoo enclosures, it is usually because the door has been inadvertently left open. However, what happened at the Kansas City Zoo in Missouri on April 9th, was an orchestrated escape, conjured up by one smart chimpanzee.
The chain of events unfolded at about 3:30pm when the ringleader placed a 6-foot long tree branch against one of the enclosure walls and leaped out. He then persuaded six more of his mates to follow suit. Fortunately, the officials found out immediately and implemented the zoo's 'code red' procedure, which included shutting down the zoo and requesting visitors to seek an enclosed area and stay put. They also barricaded all the exits with vehicles so that the chimps could not 'escape to Africa' or whatever other destination they may have had in mind.
Then began the process of luring the animals back in with treats like fruits and their favorite vegetables that included carrots, celery and lettuce. Given that it was almost dinnertime, most decided that the food was too tempting to pass up and happily returned to their enclosure. However one was not that easily taken in and it was not until the officials offered him a bag of malted milk balls that he finally succumbed and made his way back. After all, who can resist chocolate?
The whole incident lasted about 90 minutes and while the Zoo had ensured that the visitors were safe as could be, they had never been in any real danger. That's because the area that the chimpanzees had leaped into, was enclosed, and accessible only to zoo employees.
The one thing the zoo officials are scratching their heads about is how the crafty chimpanzee that masterminded the escape, had obtained the tree trunk. That's because the 100-acre enclosure that the zoo's twelve chimpanzees reside in, is constantly monitored for any fallen branches. This has led them to speculate that the primate must have broken off the log, just prior to his planned escape!
The officials decided to give the chimpanzees a day 'off' on Friday, by closing the exhibit to the public. This gave the great apes a chance tor recount their exciting adventure and the zoo officials some uninterrupted time, to examine their enclosure for other possible escape tools!
Resources: dailymail.co.uk, isciencetimes.com.