Monday, December 11, 2017
News Roundup

Busch Gardens orangutan tastes freedom, briefly

TAMPA — A 10-year-old Bornean orangutan escaped from her new exhibit at Busch Gardens for nearly an hour Saturday before she was recaptured.

Luna Bella, who weighs about 85 pounds, climbed up the outside edge of a visitor viewing window in the park's new Jungala exhibit and then onto the roof of the exhibit about 6 p.m.

Caretakers were able to lure her back about 7:20 p.m. with apples, carrots and vanilla ice cream.

Glenn Young, vice president of zoological operations, said at a late Saturday news conference that part of the exhibit will remain closed until the park can ensure the escape won't be repeated.

"The incident had the best possible outcome as a result of our training and procedures," Young said.

He credited the relationship between the orangutan, Luna Bella, and four caretakers for the capture.

The new Jungala exhibit is a $40-million home for a dozen tigers, six orangutans and assorted gibbons and flying fox bats.

The theme park reported the escape to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Wildlife commission Lt. Steve DeLacure said officers were on the scene late Saturday and would return today to continue the investigation.

Theme park visitor David Conyers said he saw the orangutan standing on a low-slung roof just before park employees ushered visitors out.

"It didn't seem particularly perturbed or anything; it was just kind of moving along," said Conyers, who works as a copy editor at the St. Petersburg Times.

Young said Luna Bella did not come into contact with any guests during her escape.

While the 6-week-old Jungala exhibit was immediately closed after Luna Bella's escape, the larger park remained opened Saturday until its normal closing time of 7:30 p.m., Young said.

Jungala was designed partly with orangutans in mind.

It contains rope hammocks, a special tree house, and overhead ropes stretching across the 4-acre exhibit for orangutans.

Young said Luna Bella was brought to Busch Gardens 3 1/2 years ago, "from another zoological facility."

He said Luna Bella didn't get far during her escape.

Her climb amounted to about 12 feet vertically. From there, she traveled along a roof and a wooden perimeter fence for 60 to 70 feet, Young said.

At the time, she could have roamed anywhere in Jungala, he said.

"The animal stayed calm throughout this whole incident," Young said. Compared to other orangutans in exhibit, "she has a very strong relationship and very strong bond with her caretakers," Young said.

The western portion of Jungala will remain closed until Busch Gardens can determine how to prevent further escapes, Young said. Jungala's six orangutans will be kept in their night quarters.

Comments
PolitiFact Florida: Does Andrew Gillum want to make Florida a sanctuary state?

PolitiFact Florida: Does Andrew Gillum want to make Florida a sanctuary state?

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is using the controversial topic of sanctuary cities to drum up Republican support in his bid for governor.At a campaign stop in Jacksonville, Putnam warned voters that one of his Democratic opponents want...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Hooper: Yacht StarShip weathers the storm

At the height of the economic downturn, Yacht StarShip owner Troy Manthey said he and his wife, Jill, worried about the company’s survival."We were counting ice cubes," Manthey said.But they made it. The dining cruise business that sails out of the C...
Updated: 11 hours ago
St. Pete takes small steps on the way to sustainability

St. Pete takes small steps on the way to sustainability

BY CHARLIE FRAGOTimes Staff WriterST. PETERSBURG — It was a big promise made by Mayor Rick Kriseman more than two years ago: Get the Sunshine City to eventually run on 100 percent renewable energy.In a few months, the city will take small but tangibl...
Published: 12/11/17
Florida WWE wrestler arrested, charged with battery of his wife, also a professional wrestler

Florida WWE wrestler arrested, charged with battery of his wife, also a professional wrestler

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Wrestler Rich Swann is being held without bail in a Florida jail after he was arrested and charged with battery and false imprisonment. Swann, who is 26 and a former WWE cruiserweight champion, was arrested Saturday. According to ...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
The Daystarter: No concession call in St. Pete mayor’s race; Bucs turn over another game; light shows get even fancier; Pinellas works to reduce 911 calls

The Daystarter: No concession call in St. Pete mayor’s race; Bucs turn over another game; light shows get even fancier; Pinellas works to reduce 911 calls

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.10News WTSPThe latest 7-day forecast•?It won’t be quite as chilly this morning, with lows in the 40s, according to 10Weather WTSP•?As you head out for your morning commute, che...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Veteran 3B Evan Longoria as uncertain as anyone about Rays’ plans

Veteran 3B Evan Longoria as uncertain as anyone about Rays’ plans

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Uncertain with all the talk about potentially rebuilding if the Rays would go as far as trading franchise cornerstone 3B Evan Longoria?So is he."I don’t know what to think, really,’’ Longoria said via text message Sunday night as t...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Sunny day floods become new norm

WASHINGTON — The tide watchers start patrolling whenever the celestial forces align. From coast to coast, hundreds of tide watchers come out with their cameras to record the latest ‘‘king tides,’’ brief episodes of tidal flooding that could become th...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Tiny snowmen appear in Florida as Sunshine State gets snow

Tiny snowmen appear in Florida as Sunshine State gets snow

The "Welcome to Florida" sign in the northwest part of the state was covered in light snow as winter weather dipped into the Sunshine State. It was part of a winter storm that hit the Deep South over the weekend and left thousands of people without p...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Updated: 8 hours ago
Getting around Cuban customs control

Getting around Cuban customs control

HAVANA, CUBA — Ernesto Machado will never forget that cold morning in 1968 at José Martí International Airport in Havana, when an immigration official seized his parents’ gold wedding bands and ripped up his passport."This is property of the revoluti...
Updated: 9 hours ago