Sally the chimpanzee takes a stroll, visitors run

A tree with low-hanging branches provided an escape ladder


Outside looking in. Image: Public Television System

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)--Local TV reported that on Sunday a chimp known as Sally escaped from her enclosure and went for a stroll along the zoo's human walkways.

Sally climbed into a pavilion, and then went to look at her fellow inmates through the enclosures' glass windows. Sally enjoyed herself, but human visitors, not so much. Despite visiting the zoo in the expectation of seeing wildlife, many humans screamed on seeing the primate. The constant screams alerted staff that something was wrong. Staff with tranqulizer guns were dispatched to the scene.

A zookeeper speaking to Public Television System reporters explained that a tree growing on the human side of the zoo had branches which grew into the enclosure. The zoo speculated that the chimp had climbed the tree to exit the enclosure.

Sally has been in Taipei Zoo since 1987, when it was sited in Yuanshan. She is 35 years old this year. This is said to be the equivalent of 87 in human years. She is very intelligent and agile. The zoo said that although the enclosure is ringed by a rocky cliff, the tree is very close, so as soon as its branches were long enough to be grasped, Sally could climb out.

Sally did not attack or injure anyone during her stroll and when she recognized the vet, she automatically headed back to the enclosure. The zoo spokesperson said that Sally found her own way back inside her enclosure by climbing over some bamboo and then down the rocky wall.

In fact the zoo has had escapes in the past, including a tiger and a gorilla. The zoo advises visitors who find any wildlife unexpectedly outside the enclosures to suppress any urge to scream and run. They should just withdraw quietly. The zoo says in the future, it will pay attention to possible escape routes out of the enclosures.