Meet Ken Allen, a Borneo orangutan in the San Diego Zoo who escaped his enclosure three times. He never acted aggressively towards anyone during his escapes, and generally wandered around the zoo looking at other animals.

Ken Allen

For people named Ken Allen, see Kenneth Allen (disambiguation).

Ken Allen (February 13, 1971 – December 1, 2000) was a Bornean orangutan at the San Diego Zoo. He became one of the most popular animals in the history of the zoo because of his many successful escapes from his enclosures. He was nicknamed “the hairy Houdini”.

Ken Allen was born in captivity at the San Diego Zoo in 1971. During the 1980s, Ken Allen gained worldwide attention for a series of three escapes from his enclosure, which had been thought to be escape-proof. During some of his escapes, his female companions would join him. Ken Allen’s ability to outwit his keepers, as well as his docile demeanor during his escapes, resulted in fame. He had his own fan club, and … Continue Reading (2 minute read)

9 thoughts on “Meet Ken Allen, a Borneo orangutan in the San Diego Zoo who escaped his enclosure three times. He never acted aggressively towards anyone during his escapes, and generally wandered around the zoo looking at other animals.”

  1. Dandibear

    Orangutans are super smart. People who use machines around them in the wild have to avoid letting the orangutans see how to work them. They’ve stolen researchers’ boats that way.

  2. LBJsPNS

    “If I just wander around the zoo like the humans do I’ll blend in and no one will notice…”

  3. ghandi253

    These animals never cease to amaze me with how smart they are. I once saw an orangutan in the Memphis zoo in Tennessee try to get visitors to feed him. He was extremely clear in his actions. They had numerous signs up telling people to not feed him. When he gestured to me I simply pointed at the sign and shook my head. He immediately and I mean immediately ignored me and started focusing on other people. I don’t know if he knew about the sign exactly but it was still kinda crazy

  4. littleliongirless

    I know most people already know this but Bornean orangutans are critically endangered since 2016, which means there’s a very good chance of them going extinct within our lifetimes. At going rates, the current population is expected to decline by another 50% by 2025. Reforestation and extreme protection of their habitats is the only ways these guys are going to be alive in even 30 years. They are one of the most peaceful of the great apes too, so any post about them makes me “awww” and despair in equal measure.

  5. DeadInsideWiggs

    One time at the zoo I was eating a snickers. The orangutan walked up to the glass wall between us, pointed at the snickers, picked up a stick and threw it over the wall. It landed right next to me a second later. I think he was trying to get me to throw the snickers in the same spot to give it to him. I didn’t for obvious reasons

  6. i_bet_youre_not_fat

    They don’t explain in the article why his name is Ken Allen.

  7. Fallen_OSR

    Orangutans have also escaped their enclosure at my local zoo a few times. They can’t swim so there’s a moat around the cage. But that didn’t stop them from building a makeshift boat and sailing across.

  8. Atheist_Redditor

    More from that Wiki page:

    Zoo staff began surveillance of his enclosure to try to catch him in the act, only to find that Ken Allen seemed to be aware that he was being watched. This forced zookeepers to go “undercover”, posing as tourists to learn Ken Allen’s escape route, but the ape was not fooled. Moreover, other orangutans began following Ken Allen’s lead, escaping from their enclosure.[4] Zoo officials eventually[when?] hired experienced rock climbers to find every finger, toe, and foothold within the enclosure, spending $40,000 to eliminate the identified holds.

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