Thursday, 09 April, 2020

Belfast Zoo visitors 'petrified' by escaped chimpanzee

Belfast Zoo Visitors ‘Petrified’ As Escaped Chimpanzees Roam Free Four chimpanzees escaped their enclosure and roamed freely throughout the zoo in Belfast Northern Ireland on Feb. 9 2019
Deanna Wagner | 12 February, 2019, 17:20

Zoo manager Alyn Cairns said the trees in the chimpanzees' enclosure might have been weakened by the storms making them easier to break up.

Belfast Zoo officials told BBC that the chimpanzees made an improvised ladder from a large tree branch that was propped up against a wall.

"Don't escape you bad little gorilla", a child could be heard saying in one video.

Cairns said it appeared the trees in the enclosure had been weakened by the storm, allowing the chimps to use them to climb out.

She said: 'Why weren't the enclosures checked?

Last June, two lions, two tigers and a jaguar escaped their enclosures in a flooded German zoo for several hours.

Though as the BBC noted separately Sunday, the incident is the second breakout the zoo has seen this year after an endangered red panda got out of its pen in January due to an apparent electrical failure.

A chimpanzee eats fresh fruits at Rome’s Bioparco zoo on Aug. 4 2016
A chimpanzee eats fresh fruits at Rome’s Bioparco zoo on Aug. 4 2016

Video shared to Facebook by Danielle Monaghan - who was at the zoo with her children, partner, and his nieces and spoke with the BBC about the incident - showed the animals managing to fashion a kind of ladder out of a tree branch before scaling it and posting up on their enclosure wall.

The leader of the Green Party in NI has said questions must be asked about safety at Belfast Zoo after a chimpanzee escaped from its enclosure. "We just walked past it and it was absolutely grand".

"It may have been a different story if it had been aggressive but it absolutely wasn't".

"The council has a duty of care around the welfare of animals at the zoo but we also need to ensure the safety at all times of the public". "Zookeepers were present as the chimpanzee quickly returned from an adjacent wall to the rest of the group inside the enclosure", it said.

"We like things to be natural in their enclosure, to have trees in it, but we will review it", he added.

Mr Cairns added that the enclosure now trees to make it feel more natural for the chimps.

The chimpanzees were locked into their inner enclosure after the great escape.

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