And her name is Karta, and she is an orangutan. Karta escaped from her zoo pen by using a stick to short out an electric fence, then building a crude ladder to climb over a wall.
If only she’d had some coconuts and vines, she would have built a radio and called the Orangutan Liberation Front for rescue.
St. Tabby Lavalamp says
Then that orangutan had a son, and that son grew up to be Dr. Zaius, the greatest of all apes.
But seriously, doesn’t that damned dirty ape know we’re supposed to have dominion over her?
No doubt a feat still far removed from the capability of Luskin et al!
Kind of puts the Professor to shame doesn’t it? All those years and he couldn’t get Gilligan and Co. off the island. Maybe someone will pick up on this and make a new sitcom: “Are You Smarter Than an Orangutan?”
Damn dirty apes!
As she was being taken away, Karta grumbled, “And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for you meddling kids.”
Hmm, if only there were a theory of development which might explain why primates exhibit human-like intelligence we might have some insight into how such a plan could be carried out by an orangutan. Oh, wait.
Actually she’d just returned from a few pints and a brawl at The Mended Drum but made a extremely minor miscalculation and wound up on the wrong side of the fence. Hence the elaborate ruse to fool the servants into thinking it was an escape attempt. Librarians protect the secret of L-Space! It’s one of the three cardinal rules of True Librarianship.
'Tis Himself says
You can make things fool proof but you can’t make them orangutan proof.
And the Librarian would be proud of her.
B.t.w., who/what is “McGyver”? Searching finds a “MacGyver” which is probably what Pee Zed meant…?
Further evidence for why zoos shouldn’t exist: animals, which we may or may not acknowledge have intelligence and self-awareness, are kept-up in confinement for most of their lives and for what purpose? Edutainment, if you can even call it that?
The most important point of this story is the human ape species does not have a monopoly on intelligence. Understand Christian hicks? People are not special creations of your magic fairy. Your dead Jeebus was nothing more than an ape. Christian retards worship a dead ape.
Horses for courses. Some animals like nothing better than being “banged-up” for life. Provide a domestic cat with abundant food, shelter and sex and it will never, ever, try to go outside. Tape worms like to stay indoors, too.
“Orangutan Liberation Front?! We’re the Front for the Liberation of Orangutans!!”
'Tis Himself says
Sex isn’t needed if you do the smart thing and GET YOUR CAT (OR DOG) NEUTERED!
way to go, sista!!!!!
Didn’t I see this on a rerun of “Gilligan’s Island”???? Like the other poster said At least Karta was smart enough to get off the island. I keep watching those reruns, but they still never get off that island year after year. They were marooned in 1960 something and now it’s 2009. I figure if I watch long enough, someone would find them. Either that or global warming will just submerge the island.
Moth Eyes says
blf: yes, that is the show whose title character is being referred to.
good for her. animals should not be forced to live in cages.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I vaguely remember the group being rescued and then they all decided to go back to the island because, hey, they get to live on a tropical island.
Back to the issue at hand, though…
I’m wondering if they providing her with enough mental stimulation in her pen? I mean, even chain retail stores supply hamsters with hamster wheels. What measures did they take before to ensure that she was physically and mentally fit? I’d be interested to see what measures they’ll take in the future to preoccupy her.
Now you’ve made me feel old.
I think Richard Dean Anderson musta been my first mancrush – long time before I knew of the concept. Or even homosexuality in all likelihood.
I used to *love* MacGyver. Until he got all mushy and sentimental towards the later episodes. Way to go Karta!
A zookeeper friend always said that the orangutans would be the first of the primates to escape. They frequently try to pick the locks with sticks if they can reach them. All zookeepers are warned to keep very close track of their keys when in the primate areas.
Which begs the question, why do they keep her within an electric (or ‘hot wire’ in the article?) fence? The way they call it an ‘exhibit’ as well… eugh.
I don’t know what your purporting – sure we see an incident of an orangutan escaping in an unexpected way. But I think I see a confirmation bias on your part – you are ignoring all the other caged simians and instead use this as a point to spout your opinion on primate liberation. Not that is isn’t your right, but I find it a bit uncomfortable to see.
PZ, I’ve seen better. Don’t lower your quality yet.
Interestingly, Karta is Sanskrit for “Doer”… Only, it’s pronounced like “curt”, which I guess was not the intention…
Chris Hughes says
Interesting though, that having sat up there for a half hour, she apparently decided to go home again, and climbed down on the enclosure side. She obviously didn’t think much of her view of the human world…
rob czar says
FREE KARTA! Why are these animals in captivity and on display?
I always found it puzzling that the professor launched a satellite into space using coconuts and bamboo, but he apparently couldn’t fix a hole in a boat. Yeah, I’m that old.
Emmet, OM says
As I said over in the other thread, I’m pretty sure the caption on that photograph should read Casey Luskin uses his microscope to search for evidence of Intelligent Design.
a lurker says
“Orangutan Liberation Front?! We’re the Front for the Liberation of Orangutans!!”
Only humans are that stupid.
/Look on the brighter side of life
Paul Lundgren says
So is Karta’s alias in the OLF something like “Rev. BigSMARTChimp?”
I went out for sushi last night with some girlfriends and we decided to try cuttlefish sushi. After eating it and then (later) going to sleep, I think I had a dream where I met PZ Oo;;;
St. Tabby Lavalamp says
While zoos are far from ideal places for most animals, orangutans are very endangered in the wild. Sure, until humanity gets over itself and allows other species to thrive without killing them off or destroying their habitat, the best option would be protected sanctuaries and parks, a good zoo would design the best possible living area for the animals in its care and places protection, conservation, and education above exhibition when possible.
Charlie Foxtrot says
Orangutans on the Animal Plant TV series Orangutan Island, used sticks in a similar way to escape to another part of their island. Seems to be more common intellect for orangutans not “ingenious” for them as the report’s author supposes.
Does anyone know if christians possess similar intellectual capabilities?
What’s with news.com.au putting “ingenious” and “clever” in quotation marks. Do they think ingenuity and cleverness are solely human characteristics?
It just goes to show that you can’t keep a good ape down.
This smells like an action of the Army of the Twelve Monkeys!
David Marjanović, OM says
Humans and chimpanzees.
The bonobos are the ones who “make love, not war”.
Free Lunch says
It would be nice if we had large areas in various parts of the world that were completely human-free zones that allowed the other large mammals to survive in their natural habitat. Unfortunately, we cannot remove every human from Borneo or Sumatra or half of Kenya. We might be able to persuade everyone to leave the western halves of North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska, though, for a massive nature preserve in the US. Unfortunately, no non-human apes are likely to survive there.
Becca Stareyes says
Adding to St. Tabby at #34, re: Tom’s comment at #10, a lot of animals, including orangutans, are living in countries which are going through periods of unrest and/or cannot care for their human populations, let alone the non-human animals and plants. Keeping enough animals in captivity and maintaining genetic diversity can help if their habitats go down the toilet in the meantime. Keeping animals like orangutans in the public consciousness so that they help fund this and know something of biology is a nice side benefit.
Of course, the animals should also be in locales interesting enough to keep them busy and happy. Sounds like Karta was trying to make her own fun, and/or see what all the goings on were about.
Alan Kellogg says
We once had a pair name of Ken Allen and Kumang. He started out as a young adolescent climbing very tall trees inside the enclosure and swinging on the tips to other, very tall trees outside the enclosure. Kumang is the one who figured out how to short out the wires baring Ken from simply “spider climbing” up the walls. Spider climbing involving angles, leverage, and an orangutan’s enormous strength.
(Basically he lodged his body in some corner of the enclosure and climbed the wall the same way a rock climber would a chimney in a cliff face.)
Kumang was a shy person. Ken Allen would get out so he could walk the grounds and have his picture taken with the tourists. I met him once a few years before his death from cancer, and demonstrated the human’s precision grip. A grip it is physically impossible for the great apes to do because of their manual anatomy. I left him pondering his hand, and evidently asking himself, “How did he do that?”
Sven DiMilo says
she seems smart enough to run for republican office already….
and who sez we doezent comez from monkeyz…
Alan Kellogg says
Sven DiMilo | May 10, 2009 1:16 PM
I recall a story about a species of owl that was losing habitat to developers. Shy animal according to naturalists, who couldn’t live alongside humans. Until one day…
The rest of the story should be fairly obvious for those who take a bit of time to think about it.
Remember when white tail deer were these timid animals who would never go into human inhabited land except under the cover of night, and who would bolt at the first disturbance? I can just hear the noon traffic report for June 15th 2020 right now, “Over at Barlow’s Junction traffic has been held up by bison for over an hour now, and there is no relief in sight. Meanwhile in western Nebraska…”
You are probably reading too much into this. Note that this is not one of PZ’s extensive posts on peer-reviewed research but rather, IMHO, a lighthearted jab at creationists’ arrogance that humans are the only species capable of intelligent behavior. Confirmation bias? In light of primate research and previous zoo escapes, Karta’s escape may not be entirely a freak accident.
Alan Kellogg @ 43 intrigued me, so I went searching… and found Orangutans, Resistance and the Zoo about Ken Allen, Kumang, and other escape artists.
Ian Spedding, FCD says
anathema @ 14
The Dark Avenger says
This reminds me of this comic from xkcd.
Anonymous @ #13:
I have a cat who meets the criteria and tries to get outside every damn day. And, yes, I’d like to let him outside if he wasn’t a rescued cat who had his nails chopped off out of convenience of his previous “caretakers.”
Rock on Sister Hominid.
(Next time turn the electric fence into a taser.)
Alan Kellogg predicted…….June 15th 2020 right now, “Over at Barlow’s Junction traffic has been held up by bison for over an hour now, and there is no relief in sight. Meanwhile in western Nebraska…”
Typical summer day in some parts of Yellostone National Park. I called the bison the “Pigeons of the Park” because they and their droppings are everywhere.
So are you, Mr. Whitehead. So are you.
dead santa says
I agree with your assessment that cats do like to go outside even when they have everything they need, but I disagree with your idea that cats should not be declawed.
Cats are excellent predators and kill a lot of songbirds just for fun. Declawing them decreases the number of birds they can kill; leaving them inside stops them altogether. I take the birds’ side in this case.
Yay apes! Now, can she teach everyone else the same trick? We’ll give them the coconut shells , wooden boxes, and an island next and they’ll be making those radios in no time.
@#45: APE, not monkey!
This guy will sort you out:
Cath the Canberra Cook says
Declawing cats is extremely cruel and is against the law in most civilised countries. Keep them indoors if you really must, use those softpaws things etc etc.
“Cats are excellent predators and kill a lot of songbirds just for fun. Declawing them decreases the number of birds they can kill; leaving them inside stops them altogether. I take the birds’ side in this case.”
Hanging a bell on the cat’s collar also saves the birds, while leaving the cat its defenses. Just sayin’.
Fortunately my own cat is such a klutz that the birds and squirrels don’t even bother to flee. He can chase them all day; it gives him something to do.
Many animals, like many humans, want to explore and be challenged and solve problems. Temple Grandin says cats love learning tricks as much as dogs do, for instance. Sometimes animals try to escape because that’s the only real challenge they ever have, the only problem worthy of their skills. Enrichment in itself isn’t challenge; often it just means providing more toys, novel objects and varied foods. I’d be interested to see if zoos could give their orangutans obstacle courses to solve, and if those led to fewer escape attempts.
Alan Kellogg says
I don’t know if anybody’s done the work on the subject, but I’m thinking it’s the orangs who have the best skill at reading humans of all the non-human apes. They also have the most expressive faces of all the non-human apes. And being good at reading humans means being good at reading what humans do.
It might be that at one time the ancestor of the modern orangutan was more of a tool using animal than it is now; and that, like the hobbit, the orang kept those tool using areas of the brain even though they no longer have as many opportunities to so use them living where they now do.
As to cats; cats were bred -though inadvertantly- to be infants. Surrogate infants with infantile mannerisms and behaviors. The domestic cat is always in the process of growing up.
I agree with you, except for this:
Paul Lundgren says
Them’s fightin’ words…
Too right, mate.
Provide a domestic cat with abundant food, shelter and sex
um, isn’t bestiality illegal in many places?
Now if only we could get her to play for the Wild…
What? If she’s McGyver, she can play.
This has been the most interesting thing to happen in my home town of Adelaide in a while.
Might I suggest a cat door to an outdoor run? Some people in Toronto have gone to the extent of having cat-sized enclosed bridges, pens, ledges, etc. for their cats, e.g. out the window to a ledge, down to the ground, and up a tree to a platform. The cats love it.
I had a pound cat that had been de-clawed by his former owners, and once he realized that grass wasn’t cold like snow, he loved to go out. I let him, because he never went far–liked to hang around in the yard with me. But one day I was working in the front yard and he came galloping joyously around the corner chasing a raccoon. I guess no one had told him.
Also, a cat naturally patrols. It wants to make sure everything is safe at home base, then go out and check the perimeters, then home base…Once you understand that, it’s more tolerable that “a cat is always on the wrong side of any door.”
Rev. BigDumbChimp says
Don’t let you cats wander in my neighborhood and happen to climb my fence.
It never ends well. I know of two cats that never made it back out.
Michael Gray says
I had to laugh!
The advert on the right side of the main page reads:
“Are You a Librarian?
declawing is cruel, and bells only work on relatively clumsy cats. on the other hand, cats are usually ok with being indoor animals as long as they’re provided enough territory and entertainment. it also helps to have more than one cat, so they can keep each other entertained. siblings work best, or at least two kittens brought home at the same time. bringing a new cat into another cat’s established territory is almost guaranteed to cause drama.
Rev. BigDumbChimp says
That’s not just cats. Dogs are the same way. My 10 year old husky took a while to get used to both of the labs we’ve had in his lifetime. Eventually, they adjust.
well, I wouldn’t know about that, since I generally try to avoid dogs and spending time in places where dogs live. I really don’t like dogs, and that generally tends to offend every dog-person I happen to visit.
Though, as I had it explained by a friend, that emotionally draining neediness of dogs is actually not the dogs’ fault, but rather their owners’. She once explained to me that all those “super-friendly” dogs that want attention from everyone are actually dogs that aren’t given proper attention by their owners, who leave their dogs alone too much. If that’s true though, then every dog I’ve ever met was attention-starved like that.
And there’s absolutely no excuse at all for Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahuas, etc. :-/
Rev. BigDumbChimp says
I’ve always been a dong person but I know a lot of dog owners who need a good kick in the ass.
On that I can agree.
The OLF presents a real problem to American Freedom. I think it’s high time that we fund increased CIA investigations against this Great Ape insurgency.
Amazing how easy “humans” find it to mock creatures who are at our mercy, who are innocent and undeserving of any more abuse than we already heap upon them.
Out of a pretty lame “sense of humor” based on the conceit of superiority.
Fine way to treat our fellow (and quite endangered) companions in our disgustingly arrogant heads.
No wonder we can’t refrain from from killing them off.
We’re too friggin’ full of ourselves.
I’ll probably get landed on, and no doubt attract a troll or two (if they have the wiles for having said so), but I don’t give a shit.
With so many human idiocies festering in the world to tear away, why pick on those who can’t defend themselves? Some targets ARE legitimate and just begging for it, and some are not.
PZ relates a charming tale of Karta (yes, she has a ‘self’ and is verily a thinking and feeling being) and it unleashes a barrage of jokes from “oook” to references to “Planet of the Apes”.
A little shame is not such a hard thing to accept, even if one has never had the pleasure.
Janine, OMnivore says
Astrounit, “Ook” refers to the Librarian in Terry Pratchett’s Disc World series. He is an orangutan who used to be a human, changed by a misdirected wizard’s spell. He prefers staying an orangutan, it is easier to more through the ever shifting library at the Unseen University. He is probably the most intelligent living creature in the series.
If you want to help the Orangs, lay off any products that contain Palm Oil (that will not be easy.)
As for cats, I guess it depends on where you live. Just remembered the NZ light house keepers cat wiping out an entire endemic bird species, as reported in Douglas Adams last chance to see. Btw, dont forget Towel Day is coming up.
Wouldn’t it be more likely that the good-looking one in the picture had been told by Luskin to use what Lusking perceived being a microscope?
In particular seeing the orangutan’s expression as he/she wonders how anyone can be that daft.
When it comes to cats, my ex mother-in-laws was the best. It was curled up nicely, and never moved. Ever.
(Might have had something to do with the fact that it was stuffed).
Samantha Vimes says
Yeah, the “Oook” reference is to an extremely beloved and intelligent character from the Discworld books. He’s a Wizard and a Librarian who likes being an ape. He is also a good citizen (a deputy of the Watch) and probably closer to being the sane man of the University than any of his associates.
Terry Pratchett, the author, has raised money to protect orangutan environment. And put in some serious words about their plight; his books may be humorous, but pointed humor, and he makes people think.
In short, the “Ook” is a shorthand for “She sounds as clever as the Librarian! That is so cool, and I respect her.”
But if you don’t have the background, you don’t get the subtext.
Samantha Vimes says
P.S. It was an orangutan whose face held such a look of hopelessness I decided I could never see caged apes again. I saw a person in those eyes, a person imprisoned without benefit of law.
otoh, I don’t see a way around that until their habitat is secure from destruction. So the best thing is a pleasant and interesting environment, which I would say would include interacting with people in a positive fashion. I hope that the article linked to in Counterpunch was biased, but it sounded like the zookeepers were treating the apes as enemies. If the apes escape and then wander around amongst the visitors, they probably are curious about *people*.
@Chris Hughes (#27)
Of course she took one look and then went back into her enclosure.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Here’s an example from PZ’s own quotefile, linked on the side of the page:
Rev. BigDumbChimp says
Holy shit Freudian typo and no one pointed and laughed.
I thought declawing cats was illegal, barring medical necessity? I expect the RCVS would be keen to learn of any licences that need revoking …..
Anyway, cats only kill the old, weak and sick birds. Which means there is more food to go around the young, strong, fit ones.
“If the apes escape and then wander around amongst the visitors, they probably are curious about *people*.”
At least at my local zoo, the older orangutans seem to spend a lot of their time people watching. (The younger ones prefer to socialize with one another and enjoy more active forms of entertainment.) None of them seem too depressed, except when they have to stay indoors for an extended period during the winter or periods of bad weather. (Of course they benefit from lots of climbing opportunities, choice of enclosure, private areas, etc. that many other zoos probably don’t have. Also the zoo conducts a lot of studies on primate cognition so that helps to keep them mentally stimulated.)
“She once explained to me that all those “super-friendly” dogs that want attention from everyone are actually dogs that aren’t given proper attention by their owners”
I really love animals, but I can’t stand most people’s dogs for this reason. That being said, it’s not just neglect. The people I know who have the worst and most annoying dogs condition the poor animals to act like that by consistently rewarding their annoying habits. Did the dog bark all the way through dinner, pee on the floor under the table, and stick its nose up your houseguest’s skirt? Why not give it some food from the table then!? I mean he must be stressed out because you brought a guest in…. or better yet scream at the dog until you sound exactly the same as him and then give him a treat. You know, so that it’s completely confusing who’s controlling what.
yeah. most of the problem with dogs has nothing to do with dogs.
(Would someone care to teach me to become a dong-person? (It was recommended to me the other day (thread?), but I’m only partway there, really))
I got my Dummkatz when he was only a coupla months old (I think – he was discovered lost, in the rain (I wonder if that’s why he’s afraid of thunder)), but he was immediately accepted by my neighbour’s older cats when I first let him out. The oldest and biggest even defended him the first day, because the other neighbours dog didn’t like Dummkatz when he first saw him, so he started yapping at the stupid kitten. I didn’t see it, myself, I’ve been told that Hamilton (a pretty big Maine Coon mix) ran over and stuck a claw in the dogs nose. Since then Dummkatz has had the run of the place. He spends every day with the other cat (Sebastian). And even some nights.
(In my defence I almost never use smilies, so I have a paranthesis allowance to spend on this post.)
Good. I’m glad it has nothing to do with “oook-as-disparaging”. Not that I ever thought an innocent vocalization has any deprecating aspects…aside from some who find it a little too easy to “ape” the sound for a few laughs.
I know all about the “ook” reference from the Discworld series. That wasn’t my point (and to have raised it would have made my post even more tiresomely Baroque than it usually is).
NOT everyone – including young people – are aware of such unannounced references.
There IS such a thing as attempting to compose a post that the novice reader will better be able to digest.
As a kid I grew up laughing my ass off with Don Martin cartoons (of Mad Magazine fame) who occasionally drew hairy primates (some of human vintage) who remarked, “OOOT GREET!!!”, and so on. (Kids – or pseudo-grownups who haven’t come across what was once a national icon – if you like FUNNY cartoons, look up Don Martin books; trust me, you’ll laugh your head off. The adventures of Captain Klutz alone used to leave me panting for oxygen)
It still brings a smile when I recall all those.
But some things really DON’T translate well…
In our heads or anywhere else.
If the pricks can hold “something sacred”, we sure as hell can too. I’m just wondering when we start demonstrating that we in fact DO, and know HOW.
…is all I was sayin’.
Pratchett has long been a recurring theme here at Pharyngula. It’s a bit of an in-joke, I suppose. No need to get the panties in a twist. Besides, what you have to worry about are the smells. They creep up on you.
I can agree on Martin — I’ve got a large softbound volume of his work from MAD. His sound effects were as evocative as his art. I was very disappointed when he jumped ship to Cracked, which I felt to be an inferior publication. I think Gaines really screwed up on the royalty deal, though, so I can’t blame the man.
I think The Grauniad wins the internets, however, since it published the best explanation (which I only just found in the dead-tree version):
Ironic that I found the above in the dead-tree version. Apologies to all