Ken Allen, Zoo’s Escape Artist, Shows His Stuff

From a Times Staff Writer

Ken Allen, San Diego Zoo’s elusive orangutan, was placed under lock and key after he jumped the seven-foot moat encircling his exhibit Tuesday afternoon and went on a 15-minute ramble around the zoo.

He was ushered back into his enclosure by keepers, veterinarians and security guards.

The 16-year-old, 245-pound Borneo orangutan made his escape when the moat in the back of his exhibit dried up because of a clogged water pump. Ken, who is afraid of water, walked across the dry moat and hoisted himself up onto rocks outside the enclosure.

Tuesday marked his fourth escape in the last three years.


Taking advantage of his liberty, Ken wandered down to the lower level sidewalk near the orangutan enclosure and hammed it up for dozens of picture-taking zoo visitors. But he was spotted almost immediately by zoo gardener Paul Nastav.

As Nastav went for help, Ken made a beeline for a lower level of the zoo where the lions and bears are housed. There, security guards and veterinarians caught up with him. Waving their arms and yelling, they chased the ape back up the hill and into his enclosure.