A clever orangutan named Daya at Auckland Zoo managed to set off its ‘tamper-proof’ fire alarm system.
The 11-year-old primate triggered the fire alarm in the South East Asia Jungle Track high canopy habitat in late August. This action activated the sprinklers, prompting the Fire and Emergency New Zealand team to rush to the zoo. They turned off the alarm and sprinklers within minutes.
Amy Robbins, Auckland Zoo Deputy Curator of Mammals, noted that the alarm was built to resist tampering by humans. However, Daya easily removed the protective cover of one sprinkler head with her fingers, activating the system. “Orangutans are much stronger than us, at least eight times,” Robbins said.
The incident led to a lot of water and noise in the enclosure, but it was quickly managed thanks to the fire crew. During the chaos, Daya remained calm and didn’t react much.
Robbins highlighted the challenge of designing enclosures for such intelligent creatures, given their natural curiosity and ability to use tools. She added, “This incident showed how efficient our system is.”
The zoo is now considering ways to prevent similar incidents in the future.