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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Monkey business

As Tbilisi is finding out, animals are surprisingly good at great escapes.

By: Express News Service |
Updated: June 16, 2015 12:00:22 am

It’s a jungle out there. The streets of Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, increasingly bear a striking resemblance to a beloved Robin Williams movie. In Jumanji, a board game turns into a portal that spits out wildlife with each roll of dice, releasing marauding monkeys, swarms of mosquitoes and one very angry lion. After torrential rains and heavy flooding destroyed the city’s zoo, Tbilisi’s streets too are being stalked by assorted fauna, including a tranquillised hippopotamus. Also at large are lions, tigers, bears and wolves, prompting authorities to warn people to stay inside, lest they encounter a grumpy carnivore who’s got the munchies.

While the Tbilisi zoo break is largescale, other animals have been craftily escaping captivity for years. The pioneers in the field were surely the pair of pigs — more Snowball and Napolean, considering their trendsetting ways, than Butch and Sundance, as they were christened — who escaped an abattoir (and certain death) in England in 1998, and were on the run for more than a week. The celebrity swine were spared execution and only died of old age in 2010. Perhaps the porcine heroes also inspired 180 of their kind to save their bacon by making a run for it when a lorry crashed yards away from a slaughterhouse in 2009. And then there is Terrence the turkey, who avoided a stuffing by walking three miles to a bird sanctuary.

Others with less dire fates in store have nevertheless vamoosed at the earliest opportunity. Ken the orangutan engineered enough escapes from the San Diego Zoo to be dubbed “Hairy Houdini”. He even taught a simian friend to use a branch to swing out of his enclosure. A Humboldt penguin scaled a rock wall twice its size to waddle away from his Japanese zookeepers. And officials at the National Zoo in Washington took to Twitter to hunt for Rusty the red panda. Rusty was found, but last seen and heard, he was planning another getaway.

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