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Orangutan gets loose at zoo despite low-voltage deterrent

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WASHINGTON — An orangutan climbed down a 40-foot tower onto the grounds of the National Zoo Tuesday despite low-voltage wires designed to prevent the apes from getting loose.

No one was injured, although several hundred visitors were at the zoo at the time, said Bob Hoage, a zoo spokesman. Visitors were ushered away from Junior, the 34-year-old orangutan, as a precaution.

"He's a calm animal, not particularly aggressive, but he's very strong," Hoage said.

Junior climbed down from what the zoo calls its O-Line, a series of eight towers and cables the orangutans use as an aerial exercise. Low-voltage wires near the top of each tower are supposed to keep the orangutans from climbing down the towers and onto the zoo grounds.