SEP 17, 2016 09:09 AM PDT

The Incredible Intelligence of Orangutans

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Some zoo animals have demonstrated quite the knack as escape artists. Among the legendary escape stunts, Fu Manchu the orangutan might take the cake.

During his stay at the Omaha Zoo in the mid 1960s, Fu Manchu's keepers would frequently find him outside of his enclosures when they arrived for work the next day. Even after many attempts at double-checking and securing the locks, Fu Manchu and his family were still found in the trees outside of his exhibit areas.

Only after surveillance cameras were installed did zookeepers realize the cunning intelligence possessed by this orangutan. As it turned out, Fu Manchu surreptitiously stole a wire from a doorframe, which he hid underneath his chin to then pick the locks at the gate at night. "Fu Manchu pulled the door back from its frame. Taking a piece of wire from his cheek, he then tripped the latch, much the way a thief might slip a credit card between a door and its frame," wrote Eugene Linden, author of "The Parrot's Lament, and Other True Tales of Animal Intrigue, Intelligence and Ingenuity."

Fu Manchu's antics earned him an honorary membership in the American Association of Locksmiths - making him quite possibly the only animal to have this distinction. Yet, he's not the only orangutan that displays a high level of shrewd intelligence, careful planning, and smart execution. Scientists are fascinated with the entire species as a whole for their abilities. Watch the video to learn more of the amazing thing orangutans do in the wild.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
SEP 11, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 11, 2018
Asteroid Mining Could Make Deep Space Missions Possible
  Deep space missions are faced with several challenges, including human safety and resource limitations, but asteroid mining could potentially solve...
SEP 12, 2018
Health & Medicine
SEP 12, 2018
Before You Tear the Moldy Portion of Your Bread Off and Call it Good... Watch This
While most people cringe at the thought of a moldy piece of bread lurking in their refrigerator, there exist bolder people who will gladly tear the moldy b...
SEP 19, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 19, 2018
Here's How to Tell if Your Dog Actually Likes You
Good dog owners love their pet unconditionally, but how can you be sure that your dog loves you back? For some, the answer is obvious; but for those curiou...
OCT 01, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 01, 2018
Getting to Alpha Centauri Won't Be Easy, But...
Alpha Centauri is one of our closest stellar neighbors at just 4.22 light years away, and astronomers think there’s an exoplanet orbiting the host st...
OCT 07, 2018
Health & Medicine
OCT 07, 2018
The Myth Behind Being Double-Jointed
Every so often, you might come across the occasional show-off that flexes their bodies in unusual ways and claims to be “double-jointed.” But i...
OCT 13, 2018
Videos
OCT 13, 2018
Why you shouldn't give a baby water
Did you know that babies shouldn't drink water before they are at least six months old? That's because, while human adults are composed of 55-60% w...
Loading Comments...