Children's Book Based on Real-life Orangutan | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Children's Book Based on Real-life Orangutan

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Published January 27, 2015 at 11:00 a.m.
Updated April 4, 2022 at 7:59 p.m.


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A simian escape artist stars in a new children's book by Shelburne author Laurel Neme. Orangutan Houdini is based on real-life orangutan Fu Manchu, who stymied his caretakers at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska. The book shows Fu bartering for a tool, picking a lock and freeing himself and his pals to romp in the elm trees above the zoo's elephant enclosure. How did he do it? His secret won him honorary membership in the American Association of Locksmiths, and his story charmed Neme, a National Geographic contributor who has researched endangered orangutans. She wanted kids to know about Fu. "When you start to learn about any individual orangutan — or whatever animal — you get interested and you care," Neme says. "And once you care, then maybe you can help."

Orangutan Houdini by Laurel Neme. Published by Bunker Hill Publishing, 32 pages, $13.34 on Amazon. Neme has been speaking at Vermont schools.
The original print version of this article was headlined "Monkey Business"

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.