Feb 122012

Visitors watching the chimpanzees frolicking in their outdoor enclosure were dismayed to see one of the chimps grab a bird that had gotten a little too close. The chimp seemed more curious than anything else, and although he was holding it tightly, the bird appeared to be unharmed.

A keeper, seeing what had happened, went in to try to rescue the bird. Knowing that it is impossible to simply take something away from a chimp if it doesn’t want to give it up, the keeper grabbed a banana to offer as a trade.

The chimp was tempted by the banana, but apparently wasn’t convinced. He looked longingly at the banana and then back at the bird. He wanted the banana, but wasn’t ready to give up his prize. He looked back and forth from the bird to the banana several more times. Each time he reached for the banana the keeper made it clear that he could only have it if he handed over the bird.

Eventually the banana won out. The chimp lifted up the hand with the bird in it and took one last longing look at the struggling bird. Then he calmly bit the bird’s head off and nonchalantly handed the body to the keeper in exchange for the banana.

Feb 122012

One hot summer day a gorilla keeper came across two macho bodybuilders, stripped to the waist, flexing and displaying to the male gorilla.

The gorilla, apparently was not impressed. The two men, on the other hand, were rather embarrassed to have been spotted.

Feb 122012

A keeper hand-raising an infant gibbon was in the habit of transporting it inside her shirt to keep it warm and contented.

One day while driving home the keeper was stopped at a stoplight and became aware that someone in another car was looking at her. (Apparently she was used to people noticing the zoo patch on the shoulder of her uniform.) Just as she turned to look, she felt a small, furry arm reach out of her shirt and touch her gently on the chin. The man’s expression, as she pulled away, was priceless.

Feb 112012

An adult male gorilla, who had been kept alone for many years after some excessively aggressive mating encounters, was in a cage next to two newly-arrived females. Keepers and the curator, seeing signs of interest on both sides, decided to risk a potentially dangerous introduction.

Apparently the risk was well taken for the introduction went very well and the animals almost immediately began copulating. (Over the years the reported number of copulations has ranged from simply amazing all the way up to astronomical.)

At the conclusion of all of this frantic activity the male took a few steps away from the females and collapsed face down in the water trough. The startled keepers rushed into the cage, ignoring the presence of the females, and pulled his face out of the water. They were too late. He was quite dead.

A necropsy showed that the gorilla had died of a massive heart attack and had probably been dead before he hit the floor.

Editor’s Note:
Several versions of this story have made the rounds over the years. This one is the most graphic. A more likely true version relates that the gorilla was simply found dead in his cage some time later. Whichever it was, it should be mentioned that at least one of the females became pregnant as a result.

Feb 112012

It was time for the Barbary macaques to undergo their annual physical examinations. Keepers entered monkey island, nets in hand, to herd the monkeys into their underground holding facilities where they would be crated for the trip to the animal hospital. The staff had this procedure down to a routine; it had been done many times without mishap.

One energetic juvenile male, however, wanted no part of the holding cages. Instead, he climbed the rock-work to the top of the waterfall. Seeing an avenue of escape he made a tremendous leap, cleared the moat with room to spare, and landed in a baby stroller right in the lap of a very surprised child.

Neither the monkey nor the child were injured, and after a brief, stunned moment the macaque dashed away. After leading the pursuing keepers on an extended chase through the zoo (including a shortcut across the top of the jaguar cages) the monkey took refuge on the loading dock of a restaurant on the zoo grounds. After several minutes of searching among the piles of large boxes stored there, the keepers safely captured the macaque and returned him to monkey island. The irony in this story is that even after such a spectacular demonstration of his athletic abilities, the monkey still had to endure the physical.

Feb 092012

Workers installing thatching as a sunshade over the great ape cages had leaned their ladder against the metal frame suspended over the front of the cages. Things went fine until one of the orangutans reached through the bars and grabbed one of the men by the front of his shirt as he climbed the ladder.

The ladder kept the orang from pulling the man any closer, but the worker, balanced precariously on the ladder, couldn’t do very much to get away. Every time he pulled away the orang pulled him back—smashing his face and chest into the ladder.

Finally, after a dozen or so bone-jarring crashes into the ladder the orang lost his grip and the uninjured, but slightly shaken worker quickly vacated the ladder.

Feb 092012

A keeper hosing out a row of outdoor ape cages let the trailing hose get too close to the cage front and an adult orangutan pulled it into his cage. A protracted tug-of-war ensued—to the obvious delight of the crowd of visitors that rapidly gathered.

Finally, determined to win the hose back, the keeper put his foot up on the cement foundation wall and hauled back with all of his might. The orang, of course, let go of the hose completely. The keeper landed flat on his back in the grass, unhurt and in total possession of the hose, but without a shred of dignity remaining.