This Crafty Honey Badger Could Escape From Alcatraz

Written by Kellianne Matthews
Updated: October 23, 2023
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Key Points:

  • In the video you see Honey badgers playing and cuddling with each other.
  • You then see these amazingly smart mammals doing anything they can to escape a safety cage.
  • These two smart Honey badgers are unable to be released to the wild, thus Honey Badger Alcatraz was built.

You won’t believe your eyes when you see what Stoffel the honey badger can do! Sure, honey badgers are clever and intelligent, but this incredible footage of Stoffel proves that these ingenious creatures are more like MacGyver than we originally thought.

Known for his strength, tenacity, and intelligence, Stoffel can outsmart even the highest security enclosure. It’s quite likely that this stealthy honey badger could escape from Alcatraz if it really wanted to!

Watch the video and then read on for more about Stoffel’s adventures!

A Very Houdini Honey Badger

A notorious troublemaker from the start, Stoffel the honey badger, was raised by a farmer, but he had too much energy and intelligence to contain. The problem, however, was that humans had imprinted Stoffel, so he couldn’t go back to the wild. Fortunately, Brian Jones, a skilled wildlife conservationist, came to the rescue and gave Stoffel a home at the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in South Africa.

But Stoffel has proven time and time again that he isn’t one to be contained — frequently busting out of his enclosure and wandering into nearby buildings to give staff and visitors an adventure they’ll never forget!

Animals With the Toughest Skin-Honey Badger

Honey badgers may be small, but they are fearless!

©Pavel Kovaricek/

His story nearly ended in tragedy when Stoffel snuck out of his enclosure one night and was mauled by some of the lions on the conservation, landing him in the hospital for several months of recovery. Jones set up a new enclosure for Stoffel, hoping it would help him settle down. It even came with a new girlfriend, a female honey badger named Hammie. Jones didn’t anticipate that Stoffel would make Hammie his new partner-in-crime.

Stoffel’s and Hammie’s new honey-badger love nest was simple. It had one gate with two sliding mechanisms to keep it shut, one near the bottom and one at the top. Stoffel reached through the links and slid the first bolt out. Then, like a true gentleman, he held the gate in place while Hammie scaled up to the top. Hammie pulled out the second sliding bolt mechanism, allowing the two honey badgers to run free like Bonnie and Clyde.

The “Honey Badger Alcatraz”

Honey Badgers are intelligent animals that require constant stimulation!

©Braam Collins/

Knowing he could not return the notorious escapees to the wild due to human imprinting, Jones had a “Honey Badger Alcatraz” built. It even had a large cement wall encircling the entire enclosure. However, Stoffel simply grabbed a tree branch, used his weight to maneuver himself, and bounced right up over it!

So they removed the branches and trees, but that didn’t stop Stoffel. The clever honey badger collected rocks from his enclosure. Using his back feet to roll them into a nice pile in the corner, he walked right up the rocks and out of the enclosure! The next day, Jones removed all the rocks, but Stoffel wasn’t done showcasing his amazing Houdini skills just yet.

In fact, it was 1 a.m. when Jones and his wife heard glass shattering from a window in their house. They feared it was a burglar — but instead, they came face-to-face with Stoffel as he tried to get into their bedroom! With no other tools left in his enclosure to work with, Stoffel had made himself a nice big mud ball, rolled it carefully against the wall, and climbed up and out once again! It appears that there isn’t anything this honey badger can’t do once his mind is set.

Why Stoffel Stays in Captivity

Honey badgers are highly intelligent creatures that require continual mental stimulation and enrichment.

©Erwin Niemand/

You’re probably wondering, at this point, why not just send Stoffel back into the wild if he is so desperate to get out? Well, it’s not quick or as simple as that. You see, Stoffel isn’t actually trying to escape into the wild. If he wanted to, he would have done so by now — he certainly has the skills!

Escaping is more of a game to Stoffel. Honey badgers are incredibly intelligent animals who need constant mental stimulation and enrichment. And discovering new tools and new ways to climb out of their enclosure is a fun game for them! While Stoffel and Hammie often escape, they never try to leave the rehabilitation center. In fact, they often head over to Jones’ house and always return home when they are ready.

In addition, since Stoffel was human-raised and in close contact with humans, he cannot go back to the wild. Imprinted honey badgers have been released into the wild before. However, due to their imprinting, they approach humans in residential areas. This causes many problems, which usually lead to their deaths.

Moreover, Stoffel has chronic sinus problems that require veterinary attention. He is also 20 years old and cannot defend himself against other badgers or larger predators. So, Stoffel happily spends his days challenging his genius honey-badger brain with puzzles and escape plans.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Braam Collins/

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About the Author

Kellianne Matthews is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on anthrozoology, conservation, human-animal relationships, and animal behavior. Kellianne has been writing and researching animals for over ten years and has decades of hands-on experience working with a variety of different animals. She holds a Master’s Degree from Brigham Young University, which she earned in 2017. A resident of Utah, Kellianne enjoys creating, exploring and learning new things, analyzing movies, caring for animals, and playing with her cats.

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