George the Orangutan, Adelaide Zoo.
Remember when we referred to George as a gorilla?
George was an orangutan and was always one of the most popular animals at the zoo, but growing up as kids, we always talked about him as a gorilla.
He was a real character whose favourite possessions were his old hessian bag and an Australian Rules football.
He also used to like a smoke and was known for a couple of other antics including masturbating, peeing at people in front of his cage and throwing his poo into the crowd.
He would throw out the hessian bag in front of his cage and people would throw peanuts, lollies and other treats onto the bag, which he would then drag back in for a feast.
Photograph: George the orangutan with his hessian bag and Australian Rules footy.
Stories abound about George, including one of the night he escaped through his unlocked door and climbed a huge tree within the zoo grounds.
Hoogen, who was his keeper at the time, had to rush to the zoo to talk him down.
George climbed down the tree and hand in hand walked back to his cage.
George died in 1976 and his bones are now housed in the old elephant house near the Elephant Interpretation Centre.
It saddens me now to think back and contemplate the solitary and miserable existence it must have been for George, locked up in a cage for most of his life and unable to mix with his own species.
Thankfully zoos today have come a long way and now take an animal’s psychological health as well as physical well-being into consideration when creating enclosures.
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