Welp, it happened again. For the third time in the last year, the orangutans at Como Zoo have escaped their enclosure by disguising themselves as a family of Garrison Keillors.
This time, the four great apes—Amanda (33), Jambu (25), Markisa (23), and baby Jaya (3) —fashioned a folding table and a sign reading “Meet & Greet Garrison Keelers (sic)” out of leaves, branches, and feces. The orangutans then sat behind it and made a series of slow and soft vocalizations meant to mimic the radio host’s signature wistful speech pattern.
The apes also repeatedly pointed to themselves and signed the words “radio”, “author”, and “dozens of allegations of inappropriate behavior spanning decades” – signs zookeepers had ironically taught them while reprimanding them after the last time they escaped.
“It was when one of them wandered over to the edge of the small pond in the enclosure and stood there with a nostalgic look on their face as if to say ‘here’s a folksy all-American kind of place you don’t see often in today’s busy world’ that I thought ‘These aren’t great apes native to Borneo and Sumatra! This is a family of nude Garrison Keillors!’ and I let them out immediately,” said zookeeper Anthony Telfer, “I was embarrassed when I realized I’d been tricked but honestly, it could’ve happened to anyone.”
I mean… you can’t argue with that.
The escaped animals were found two hours later in the University Avenue Target Optical Department attempting to further sell their ruse by trying on pairs of round thick-rimmed glasses.
“While they were outside the zoo, the animals posed no threat to the public,” said Como Park Zoo & Conservatory Director Michelle Furrer, “at the very least much less of a threat than the actual Garrison Keillor.”
Zoologists from across the world who have studied the last two escape attempts believe the orangutans first got the idea in January 2020 when a then staff member accidentally left a copy of Keillor’s “Homegrown Democrat: A Few Plain Thoughts From The Heart of America” in their habitat and they started mimicking the photo of his smug “just-sayin’” grin that appears on the book’s cover.
“I’m mostly afraid that they’re doing this so often the baby orangutan might actually start to think she’s a real Garrison Keillor,” said primatologist Dr. Anne Kessel, “that sadly happened to another orangutan in 2019. We sent him to a specialist in Indonesia but he was eaten by a Sumatran tiger a week later while searching the forest floor for a small intimate venue in which to perform a one-man show about the history of American folk music.”
Como says it plans to implement extra precautions in the future to ensure this doesn’t happen yet again, such as updating security protocols, putting employees through a 48-week long training to learn the subtle differences between Garrison Keillors and large orange-haired apes, and dressing the animals in clothes the real Garrison Keillor would never wear such as a t-shirt that says “I Heart New York” or a suit that actually fits.