Orangutan Escape Attempt: Short-Circuited Fence, Built Ladder

06/11/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

ADELAIDE, Australia — A zoo in Australia was evacuated Sunday after an "ingenious" 137-pound (62-kilogram) orangutan short-circuited an electric fence and hopped a wall surrounding her enclosure.

The ape, a 27-year-old female named Karta, jammed a stick into wires connected to the fence and then piled up debris to climb a concrete and glass wall at the Adelaide Zoo.

Zoo curator Peter Whitehead told reporters Karta sat on top of the fence for about 30 minutes before apparently changing her mind about the escape and climbing back into the enclosure.

"I think when she actually got out and realized where she was ... she's realized she shouldn't be there so then she's actually hung onto the wall and dropped back into the exhibit," Whitehead said.

Karta came within a few yards (meters) of visitors, who were the first to notice the animal's escape bid.

Whitehead said the animal was not aggressive, but the zoo was cleared as a precaution, and veterinarians stood by with tranquilizer guns in case of trouble.

"You're talking about an animal that's highly intelligent," Whitehead said. "We've had issues with her before in normal day-to-day operations where she tries to outsmart the keepers. She's an ingenious animal."

Officials at the zoo in the southern city of Adelaide would conduct a "thorough review" of the escape bid and it was likely some vegetation that could be used in a future try for freedom would be removed from Karta's enclosure.

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