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Ken Allen (aka "The Hairy Houdini")

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985987.  Tue Apr 02, 2013 12:20 am Reply with quote

You all might find it quite interesting to hear of a local zoo legend from my part of the world, San Diego. An orangutan called “Ken Allen” was nicked named “the Hairy Houdini” at the San Diego Zoo after escaping his enclosure nine times.
Ken would walk up to the tourists, sit down next to them while they ate a meal, or just stroll about. His handlers would find him, hold his hand, and walk him back to his enclosure. His handlers attempted many times to thwart his escapes, but nothing seemed to work, including adding some female orangutans into the enclosure (to which Ken responded by escaping faster). In addition, Ken’s handlers disguised themselves as tourists to see how he was escaping, but Ken would always wait until they were gone to make his grand exit. It was not until some rock climbers went into the enclosure, and found the finger- and toe-holds, that Ken’s escapes stopped.
The media went crazy with the story in the 1980’s, when this all happened. I heard about it because my father saw a bumper-car sticker that said “Free Ken Allen” and he told me the story. Unfortunately, in 2000, Ken Allen was euthanized at the age of 29 since he was suffering from cancer.

986071.  Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:03 am Reply with quote

Hi TAPaddeck and welcome to the QI forums :-)

The poor zookeepers must have been going nuts trying to work that one out!

986084.  Tue Apr 02, 2013 10:04 am Reply with quote

Hello to someone in my time zone! (I'm in LA)
Ken Allen even has his own Wikipedia page, thought this might be of interest, as there is a photo of him:


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