10 Times Monkeys Escaped

Written by Janet F. Murray
Published: September 21, 2022
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Monkeys are extremely intelligent animals and are enthusiastic escape artists. Zoos and facilities across the United States and the planet have had constant troubles with these smart animals – always finding ways to escape their enclosures. Sometimes they even manage to find help running from their human jailers. Here are examples of 10 times monkeys escaped their cages. Instead of thinking, “Not my circus, not my monkeys,” these primates thought, “not my home, human.”

Vervet Monkeys in Samburu

©Wouter van Vliet from The Hague, The Netherlands, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

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1. The Great Floridian Monkey Escape

Monkeys found living near Florida airport are linked to a monkey escape from 1948. During the 1940s, a research facility close to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida housed primates for Polio vaccine research. The facility also functioned as a zoo and kept primates like chimpanzees, mandrills, and African green monkeys, to name a few. In 1948, 50 of the animals escaped. And while their keepers successfully recaptured most of them, some embarked on a new life in the Floridian forest. Today, 36 monkeys in the forest are descendants of those who escaped in 1948. The monkeys were part of a group of Old World primates known as “Chlorocebus,” including vervets, grivets, and the malbrouck.

2. The Inimitable Evelyn Escapes 4 – 5 Times

Evelyn, the gorilla, (note: gorillas are apes, not monkeys) was a famous resident of the Los Angeles Zoo and escaped her enclosure four to five times over the years. During one of the escapes, Evelyn jumped on the back of another gorilla and climbed over the wall. During another daring (or dashing) escape attempt, Evelyn climbed overgrown vines to leave her artificial home. After this, she took a zoo tour while the zoo keepers evacuated the visitors as TV news helicopters filmed the events.

3. Ken Allen, the Bornean Orangutan That Escaped the San Diego Zoo

Ken Allen died in 2000 and was known as a “renowned escape artist.” Ken Allen was born at the San Diego Zoo in 1971 and escaped multiple times during the 1980s. However, the zoo’s website says he was quite cooperative when being led back into his enclosure and seemed to enjoy the exhilaration of the escape more than wanting out of his cage. This orangutan (another ape species) eventually became so famous that he even had a fan club, T-shirts and bumper stickers made in his honor, and a song called “The Ballad of Ken Allen.”

Smartest Animals – Orangutans

©Everything I Do/Shutterstock.com

4. Troop of 173 Rhesus Monkeys Escaped From Frank Buckโ€™s Jungle Camp Animal Park

Frank Buck’s Jungle Camp Animal Park, near Amityville, on New York’s Long Island, is home to many animals, including rhesus monkeys. One of the monkeys, Capone, escaped across a plank that an employee accidentally left across his enclosure’s moat. But Capone did not flee alone. Instead, he led 172 rhesus monkeys out of their enclosure into nearby woods. The monkeys crossed a set of the Long Island Rail Road’s tracks, scared away some train workers, and stopped a train for at least five minutes. Frank Buck’s Jungle Camp Animal Park offered cash rewards and season passes to the park to anyone who could catch the monkeys and return them.

5. Oliver, the Capuchin Houdini From a Mississippi Zoo

In 2007, Oliver, the capuchin monkey from the Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo in Mississippi, escaped twice over two weeks. Oliver was known as an escape artist and was definitely not happy after being recaptured the first time. This intrepid primate was on the run for six days before being recaptured. After his recapture, zookeepers spent $300 on new locks for the cage. Soon after, Oliver mysteriously escaped again after zookeepers found the new locks lying on the ground. Zookeepers were unsure if Oliver could get the locks off himself or if he had help from someone, possibly an animal rights advocate. Staff members found the cheeky capuchin four and a half miles away in the backyard of a home sometime later. He needed 14 people to catch him eventually.

White-faced Capuchin monkey (Cebus capucinus) in Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

A capuchin monkey like Oliver was able to escape the



©Steven G. Johnson / Creative Commons

6. Troop of 24 Barbary Macaques Escaped Tatzmania Wildlife Park in Loffingen, Germany

In 2021, 24 Barbary macaques escaped from a zoo in Loffingen, Germany, which zoo keepers later recaptured. Citizens spotted the monkeys in a nearby forest roaming in a pack, enjoying the sun and fresh air. It is unclear how they made their escape, but their keepers assume that construction work at the zoo provided an opportunity. Staff members captured the monkeys and safely returned them to their home at the zoo later that day.

7. Marmoset Siblings Escape From Writtle College in Essex, United Kingdom

In early 2022, two marmoset siblings named Marmite and Melodie escaped their enclosure after strong winds lifted the lock on their cage. Staff members from the facility set out on a hurried search looking for the errant primates in the rough weather. Luckily, they quickly found them in trees near their cage, assuming the marmosets returned to the warmth and comfort of their regular home to escape the cold.

8. A Rare Sulawesi-Encrusted Macaque Escapes From Dublin Zoo in Ireland

In 2021, the Sulawesi-encrusted macaque escaped its enclosure. However, zoo keepers soon saw it at the top of a tree inside the zoo grounds. This sighting was fortunate, making it much easier to return the macaque to its cage than if it had escaped the confines of the zoo. But before returning to its cage, this primate made the most of its freedom, exploring the zoo grounds.

9. Zimm, the Macaque, Escapes From Memphis Zoo

In 2015, Zimm the macaque escaped her pen and was missing for three days. Finally, she scaled the wall of her enclosure and went on the run before her keepers found her in the zoo’s drainage system. Since her escape, Zimm has been moved to a new pen. She is now a part of a new family and has not tried to escape again.

Animals that build things like humans – non-human primates

A macaque like Zimm managed to escape Memphis Zoo.


10. 70 Japanese Macaque Monkeys Escape From Takagoyama Zoo in Eastern Japan

In 2022, 70 Japanese macaque monkeys escaped from their temporary enclosure in the Takagoyama zoo in the Chiba Prefecture city of Futtsu. Someone allegedly tampered with the pen intentionally, resulting in the monkeys escaping into the nearby mountains. Over six months, zookeepers were able to recapture all of them. The zookeepers recaptured them by luring the monkeys into a cage with food like sweet potatoes and soybeans.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Ludmila Ruzickova/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with more than eight years of content creation experience. My content writing covers diverse genres, and I have a business degree. I am also the proud author of my memoir, My Sub-Lyme Life. This work details the effects of living with undiagnosed infections like rickettsia (like Lyme). By sharing this story, I wish to give others hope and courage in overcoming their life challenges. In my downtime, I value spending time with friends and family.

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