Orangutan escapes Kansas zoo enclosure, returns on her own

By Ben Hooper Contact the Author   |  Oct. 25, 2016 at 1:51 PM
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WICHITA, Kan., Oct. 25 (UPI) -- A Kansas zoo confirmed an 11-year-old orangutan briefly escaped from her enclosure Tuesday morning and the facility was placed on lockdown.

The Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita said visitors to the facility alerted zookeepers around 10 a.m. to an orangutan outside of her enclosure, and officials quickly confirmed 11-year-old Sumatran orangutan Tao had made her way to a public area.

The zoo was placed on lockdown and guests were ushered into indoor areas for safety, officials said in a statement.

Officials said Tao returned to her enclosure on her own and the situation was deemed secured 11 minutes after the escape was reported.

The zoo was reopened by 10:30 a.m., but the orangutan exhibit remained closed.

"At this time, it appears that Tao found a weakness in the wire mesh and may have unwoven it enough to be able to exit through the hole. The entire outdoor area will be evaluated and repairs will be made to secure the area," the zoo said. "The orangutans will remain indoors and the outdoor area will be closed until further notice so that the area can be fully evaluated and secured."

Tara and Matthew Crippen were the first to spot Tao outside of her enclosure and alerted zookeepers.

"Just standing there, holding onto some of the stuff, kind of swaying... that's definitely not a statue," Tara Crippen told KAKE-TV. "They put us in a bathroom and we had to wait for them to tell us it was all clear."

Tao made her debut at the Sedgewick County Zoo last month after being transferred from the Dortmund Zoo in Germany.

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