The 5: Shalewa Sharpe’s Top Five Animal Escapes

Shalewa Sharpe is high on my list of comedians you should know about, but most of you don’t. The first time I saw her, she was filling some tall shoes at a show called Women of Letters down at Joe’s Pub. Political analyst and Media Director for Hillary Clinton was supposed to perform, but she was unavailable and her replacement Shalewa Sharpe, stole the show. She’s been on The Tonight Show, 2 Dope Queens on HBO, and Comedy Central’s The New Negroes, and recently I caught her doing sketchwork on Jerry O’s daytime show too.

She dropped her second full-length album So You Just Out Here? on Little Lamb Recordings last month. When Shalewa was a young adult video store employee in Atlanta, “So, you just out here?” was something an old woman said to her as she observed her pick up some late-night pizza and ice cream at a convenience store. It’s served as a personal mantra of sorts ever since. So You Just Out Here? brings us along on Shalewa’s journey through the world, which is equal parts exasperated side-eye and genuine affection for herself and her loved ones. Shalewa Sharpe is just out here, and we’re all the more blessed for it.

Here’s how to get the album:

For this week’s edition of The 5, Shalewa shares her list of the top 5 (well…six) animal escapes. She explains:

I have a thing for escaping animals. Not just like, “Oh, I think the neighbor’s dog got out.” I’m talking, “There are 47 loose pigs in the parking lot of Starbucks.” I seem to have an innate sense of when it happens and if I miss a story, many people will make sure I know about it. It was hard to narrow down my favorite instances, so this list covers notable individuals (and one duo).

A zebra named Lima, Atlanta GA, Feb 2010

We begin in a downtown Atlanta office. My boss nonchalantly said, “Hey, I was on my way to the post office and I just saw a zebra running down Peachtree Street.” Wait, what now? Turns out that zebra was Lima and he had just escaped from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus, or as I saw it, left work early. He made his way down a busy street before ending up in rush hour on I-75/85, a combined interstate highway that runs through the middle of the city. Managing to merge into that horrible traffic was reason enough to cheer for him. Lima was euthanized a month later due to his injured hooves, but for that brief shining moment, his freedom was our freedom. Watch raw video footage here.

An unnamed bull, Brooklyn NY, Oct 2017

I can already hear New Yorkers, in typical jaded fashion, saying, “Big deal, a loose cow in the city.” They have a point; this was the second or third wandering cow in 2017 alone. But this guy stuck with me because he spent a delightful afternoon in Park Slope. I mean, he was walking on the sidewalk! Did he maybe knock over a toddler in a stroller? Maybe he did. He also ended up in Prospect Park. There’s an iconic photo of him on a soccer field, locked in a staring contest with a bunch of humans. He was captured and ended up at a sanctuary, because he clearly enjoys the great outdoors. Watch video here. 

An octopus named Inky, Napier New Zealand, Apr 2016
A red panda named Sunny, Norfolk VA, Jan 2017

Okay, this is a bit of a cheat, but both of these escape artists deserve their flowers. Inky was an injured octopus who was placed in New Zealand’s National Aquarium. Who knows what bothered him more, captivity or being named “Inky” by public demand – either way, Inks Magoo climbed out of his tank and squiggled his way to a drain that led to the Pacific Ocean. But hey, at least we have an idea of where Inky ended up. (Watch video here). Sunny, a red panda, shawshank’d her way out of the Virginia Zoo and after a fairly extensive hunt (drones, traps, dogs, lots of bamboo) still hasn’t been found. Not hide nor hair. I mean, did Sunny even exist at all? (watch)

Two llamas named Laney and Kahneeta, Sun City AZ, Feb 2015

You remember when this happened but you don’t remember it happening. Laney (black) and Kahneeta (white) were a couple of llamas who were visiting a seniors community. Spooked by a loud noise, both of them ran and kept running – they had juke moves for days. Finally a hero with a lasso caught them. It captivated the nation during lunch time, but here’s why you barely remember it – a few hours later, the photo of that white/gold or blue/black dress dropped and America lost its mind. Those llamas deserved better. (Llama Watch)

An iguana named Sherman, Atlanta GA, Dec 1998

Okay, this one’s personal. My best friend and former roommate, JR, had a lot of pets, including cats, geckos, and iguanas. One iguana was Sherman, a friendly dude – well, as friendly as iguanas can be. We all had recently moved into a place I like to call “The Fight Club House” and Sherman was having a tough time adjusting. So as winter approached he ran away, up the chimney and into the night. Yes, it was Atlanta but it was still going to be colder than his heated rock. We hoped he’d be okay. The following spring, as JR played with some neighborhood children, the old man who lived across the street stared and stared. Finally he yelled out, “Hey! Y’all got some kind of alligator on your power line!” You guessed it – Sherman. JR grabbed a ladder and tried to coax him out of a tree but he wouldn’t budge. He just came back to let us know he was doing okay. And now Sherman is the assistant manager at the Best Buy that was built in the lot behind that house.



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