Deseret News archives

Rusty the red panda's escape from the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C., on Monday wasn't the only renegade outbreak over the past week.

Locally, Matilda, Tracy Aviary's Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, flew the coop Saturday afternoon during a training session and was found Tuesday evening.

But Matilda isn't the only escape artist from Utah. In a look back through history, it turns out several animals have escaped confinement in our neck of the woods. A number of animals ranging from an Asian elephant named Princess Alice, who was seen walking down 700 East, to a 3-year-old ocelot and an 18-foot-long, 220-pound Burmese python by the name of Julius Squeezer have performed their own Houdini-like feats over the years.

Princess Alice
Deseret News archives

Princess Alice, an Asian elephant named after Theodore Roosevelt's daughter Alice, was purchased in 1916 by the Hogle Zoo when she was 30 or 31 years old.

By 1931, the community was reportedly in an uproar about the elephant breaking free of her compound too frequently. She was often seen wandering around 700 East wearing on her back an assortment of "odd" clothing from neighboring clothesline.

In 1947, Princess Alice went on a rampage, forcing her building's doors open and running through a fence and the gardens. The zookeeper watched helplessly as it ripped up a concrete and steel drinking fountain and uprooted a Chinese elm tree. Later, she calmly returned to her quarters.

An ocelot

In 1947, a 3-year-old ocelot from the Hogle Zoo escaped en route to a West High School presentation.

The ocelot had often been walked with a collar and leash and was captured on Main Street still wearing its collar.

Pink Floyd
Deseret News archives

Pink Floyd, a Chilean flamingo, escaped from Tracy Aviary in 1987 when his wings were left unclipped. Floyd's flight from captivity led him to the shores of the Great Salt Lake where he took up a winter residence. Several attempts to capture him were unsuccessful.

Floyd gained a number of supporters over the next two decades, including a group of Utah residents calling themselves the Friends of Floyd. The group raised $50,000 and petitioned the governor to allow them to bring in 25 additional Chilean flamingos as companions for the bird, which was seen hanging out with a group of gulls and some Tundra Swans. The flamingo even inspired a country-music duo, the Readings, to tell the story of its life through song.

Floyd was last seen in Idaho in 2005, where it was known to migrate for the summer. The Readings song can be found at

Julius Squeezer
Deseret News archives

Julius Squeezer, an 18-foot-long, 220-pound Burmese Python was owned by a man named Marty Bone who allowed the snake to have free roam of his Holladay home. According to an article in the Deseret News, Bone even slept with the snake.

The python was well-known in the neighborhood, having been a special attraction during the grand opening of the Mayan restaurant in Sandy in early 2000 and appearing frequently at local parks and schools. The python was even a special feature at some haunted houses each Halloween in Utah County.

But Squeezer was also a known escape artist. The female snake escaped at least four times in its neighborhood, most notably in 1990 and 1999. On one occasion, county search and rescue teams were called to assist in finding the snake, which could open doors by rearing up, draping itself across the doorknob and then slithering inside.

Deseret News archives

In 1997, a 450-pound male Western lowland gorilla escaped its cage in the Hogle Zoo Great Apes Building by gaining access to a basement holding area where an employee was cleaning.

The employee was attacked but able to escape and call for help. The gorilla was returned to its cage. A news release issued at the time said that the zoo was not open at the time of the incident, and the gorilla could not have accessed any public areas.

Associated Press

In 1999, three chimpanzees escaped their primary enclosure and accessed the employee service area in the Great Apes Building where their food is prepared.

Two of the chimps, which weigh 150 to 200 pounds and stand 3½ to 4 feet in height, attacked two Hogle Zoo animal keepers.

Executive Director, Craig Dinsmore, stressed that the animals never accessed public areas and that patrons were not at risk.

Two of the chimps were shot when they became dangerously aggressive during the attack. A third was safely contained by zookeepers and removed from the area.


On May 14, 2006, a female grey wolf escaped from its enclosure at the Hogle Zoo.

The 8-year-old wolf named Maddi jumped over a barbed wire fence and was on the run for more than an hour, during which the zoo was evacuated. The wolf was captured shortly afterward with no incidents.


In 2008, two animal rights activists broke into a mink farm and released 650 of the animals from their pens. All but 50 were recovered.

Several died after being hit by cars or from stress after being returned to the farm. Others were dehydrated and lethargic.

Spider monkeys

In 2011, four spider monkeys escaped from their cage at the Hogle Zoo. It began when one monkey climbed onto the trees above its exhibit through a hole. The remaining three soon followed the leader and escaped as well.

One monkey started lumbering toward a goose before it was contained. Staffers eventually surrounded all four monkeys and coaxed them back into their cage with bananas and fruit. All four were returned to the cage in less than 10 minutes.


Matilda, a red-tailed black cockatoo, escaped from Tracy Aviary Saturday during a training session.

Initially, she flew out of the aviary and landed on a tree where staff could spot her. Eventually she flew away and remained at large for three days.

She was returned to the aviary Tuesday evening after residents of Belaire Drive, in the foothills north of Parley's Canyon, spotted her in a tree and called the aviary.

Staff climbed the tree and retreived her. Belaire Drive is about a four-mile drive from the aviary.