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Primate makes great escape

BY SUSAN SIMPSON Modified: February 20, 2009 at 12:02 am •  Published: February 20, 2009
A 70-pound orangutan escaped his enclosure Wednesday for about 15 minutes before Oklahoma City Zoo workers got him back into a holding area of the Great EscApe exhibit.

Shortly after 10 a.m., Elok, an 8-year-old Sumatran orangutan, climbed into a dry moat surrounding his enclosure and over an exterior wall into a flower bed next to a guest path.

No guests were in the immediate area at the time, said zoo officials, who waited until the next day to issue a news release about the incident.

"He shimmied underneath the hotwire and down the moat. We’re not sure how he got out on the other side,” zoo spokeswoman Tara Henson said.

A zoo employee saw the escape and called "code red,” which alerted other employees a dangerous animal was loose. An announcement was made over speakers, and about 20 guests, along with workers, were ushered into buildings as a precaution.

Elok had walked about 100 feet from his habitat when zoo employees arrived in several vehicles, zoo Executive Director Dwight Scott said.

Elok climbed into the back of a zoo pickup, and the driver drove him back to the ape holding area.

Past incident
In 2003, a young female gorilla used a fallen branch to escape her enclosure at the zoo. She saw a keeper and returned to her exhibit, Scott said. That led the zoo to change procedures.

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