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Hairy Houdinis: 6 animal escape artists

By: Bryan Nelson on Dec. 2, 2011, 8:10 a.m.
Fu Manchu the orangutan in the Omaha Zoo

Photo: teejayscool/Flickr

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Fu Manchu the orangutan

There are many clever animals, but when it comes to escaping, no creature is more ingenious than the orangutan. Fu Manchu, a late resident of the Omaha Zoo, frequently would be found lounging in the trees outside his exhibit when zoo employees arrived in the morning. Fu's James Bond-esque escape plots are the stuff of legend, and showcase the depth of the animal's foresight and imagination.

 

High-tech surveillance was the only way that zookeepers were able to keep up. Long after zoo employees had left for the night, Fu would climb into the air vents connected to his enclosure and follow them to a dry moat surrounding the orangutan exhibit. Inside the moat was a locked door that employees often used. The clever ape would pull out a small piece of metal wiring that he kept hidden under his cheek throughout the day, and proceed to pick the door's lock!

 

How Fu Manchu learned to pick locks remains a mystery. But it's the ape's cunning planning skills, demonstrated by his ability to keep they wiry tool hidden from zoo employees all day, that show the depth of an orangutan's intelligence.