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The gorilla as she attempts to escape (Photo courtesy: Erica Bullins/June 3, 2010

The headlines read “Curious Gorilla Attempts Several Escapes at NC Zoo“.  Today in Asheboro, NC, local news reported that a gorilla after multiple attempts climbed to the top of her fence enclosure with the aid of a fallen tree limb.  The spectator filming her attempt to escape called 911 and zoo authorities came and shut down the exhibit in order to “check the enclosure for safety and integrity” and to reassure the public that a gorilla attempting to escape her captivity won’t happen again at the North Carolina Zoo.

However, this is not the first time an animal attempting to escape a zoo made the news. In 2007, a tiger attempted escape from the San Francisco Zoo and her efforts resulted in the death of her and a 17-year old young man.

Often when an animal uses force (sometimes deadly) to escape, the police kill him because his escapes are perceived as attacks, and often time they are. Therefore, he poses a threat to society and to the zoo that is supposed to be a safe enclosure where human adults and children can “enjoy nature” without having to step outside the concrete buffers of civilization. The way civilized society stands, the animal’s sheer desire for freedom is a threat.

After the attempted escape, the zoo officials can make sure that it’s reduced to “human error” and rest assure that the error will be mended–never mind that the individual has attempted escape more than once. The media never reports credit towards the animal. Because if they did, the zoos and the people who enjoy their exhibitions would have more to fear.

Stories like these will always happen so long as wild animals are forced into captivity and put on exhibition. Though the individual struggles are not globally organized, their attempts to leave their cages are powerful stories reflecting their will to live free and to escape their oppression. This is more than a fictional account to entertain children like the movie Madagascar. This is real life, with real individuals, many of whom have died trying to escape. This is a global phenomenon.