Posted on 31 March 2011.
On Thursday, the Bronx Zoo announced that it had finally found its missing cobra. The escape of the poisonous Egyptian snake from its enclosure at the Reptile House (it was later found inside the building) drew international attention. But it was not the first time that an animal attempted to find its way out of the zoo, and in some cases succeeded. The Bronx Ink noticed that The New York Times has faithfully documented plenty of colorful escape stories since the Bronx Zoo opened its doors in 1899. Here is a list of 1o of those famous zoo break-outs the newspaper chronicled (with photos to illustrate the species, not the actual escapee).
(Photo credit: Bruce McAdam/Flickr)
Mexican panther (1902)
A five-feet long Mexican panther, like the one pictured, got away from the facility known as the Bronx Zoological Park, spreading terror among the visitors and “in the neighborhood for miles around.” The panther interrupted several picnics, ate “sandwiches and a ham for lunch, but balks a pie” and walked around the Botanical Gardens. Although 12 zoo workers and several policemen were dispatched to catch the 7-month-old panther, the animal managed to jump into the Bronx River and swam away.
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Snow leopard (1905)
Two years after its mate had escaped from the zoo, the only snow leopard left in the United States found its way out of its cage and “disappeared like a ghost,” the paper reported. The animal was found the next morning hiding in the basement of the lion’s house.
(AP Photo/Petar Petrov)
Cuban iguanas (1908)
A week after getting to the zoo, two four-feet -long Cuban iguanas escaped their cage at the reptile house causing panic among visitors. The newspaper described them as “the most terrifying looking of all the reptiles in the Bronx Zoo Park,” although they were not considered dangerous or poisonous. They were captured shortly after.
(AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Pete the Badger, considered “one of the ugliest specimens” in the zoo by The New York Times and famous for always getting out of its cage, caused commotion when he was almost killed after breaking in the house of Crazy Mike, the old Japanese bear. Zoo staff saved him after the bear had through him around several times.
The ring-tailed raccoon-like creature named Loco was on the loose for two months before being re-captured by the staff. Its “period of freedom” coincided with the disappearance and killing of several birds. The disappearance of the birds led the keepers to set up traps, which ultimately lead to the capture of Loco.
(AP Photo/David J. Sheakley)
Canadian black bear (1920)
Black Prince, a 500-pound Canadian bear who used to be a house pet, escaped its cage by passing through the 20-foot iron fence that surrounded the zoo. After a night at large, Bronx Park rangers found him prowling along Gun Hill Road, not far from 204th Street. When he tried to run away, riflemen open fire and killed him.
Himalayan black bear (1921)
On the day that the zookeepers decided he was domesticated enough to be put with other bears, the young Himalayan black bear found its way out and wandered around the zoo. It was captured while attempting to get to the woods and it was resentto the bear’s house.
(AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser)
Considered by police as “an escape artist,” a small gibbon escaped from the exhibit area and bit two visitors. It was captured shortly afterward and resent to his cage.
(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
Thirty-three birds, most of them South American gulls and terns, flew away after the roof of the 19th-century aviary collapsed under the weight of foot of snow. Almost all of them were recovered, including an Inca tern that made it to a New Jersey driveway.