Orangutan back in enclosure after escaping at the Sedgwick County Zoo

Sedgwick County Zoo (KSN Photo)
Sedgwick County Zoo (KSN Photo)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Sedgwick County Zoo was placed on lockdown after an orangutan briefly escaped its enclosure. It happened around 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The escape lasted around 10 minutes before the orangutan named Tao went back inside. Zoo officials said she found her way out through a hole in the exhibit.

The zoo was placed on lockdown for a short time. The lockdown is now lifted. People were told to stay inside an exhibit or building. Those that were walking around outside were told to get inside of a building immediately.

“Orangutans are, we consider here at the zoo, orangutans are a potentially dangerous animal,” said Ryan Gulker, the Deputy of the Sedgwick County Zoo. “So, if an orangutan gets out we would treat it as if it were a tiger or a bear or an elephant. We treat them all the same. So there is a potential danger, yes. Nobody was hurt, nobody was injured.”

Gulker says they were on lockdown for about 15 minutes, asking zoo-goers to get inside the nearest building.

After conducting preliminary interviews, a zoo guest said she did have physical contact with the orangutan. The guest stated that she never felt that she was in danger or in any way threatened by the orangutan

The outdoor exhibit is closed as officials work to repair the hole that allowed Tao to escape.

“The exhibit is made of mesh, stainless steel, heavy gauge, woven wire mesh. It appears a spot or weakness in that weave of the mesh and she might have found that. She was able to push it out, able to create a hole about the size of a volleyball. In fact after seeing it, I’m surprised she was able to fit through it, but orangutans are pretty agile,” said Gulker.

The orangutan has been at the zoo for a couple of months. =

The orangutans are now secured in their inside exhibit and will stay there while zoo officials try to find out how exactly part of the enclosure was able to be pushed open by one of the orangutans.