Chimpanzees escape Belfast Zoo enclosure using tree branch 'ladder'

12 February, 2019, 17:23 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption One of the chimps ventured a bit further than the others

The escape is the second at the zoo in as many months, after a red panda called Amber went on a "surprise vacation" in January.

"Zoo management is assessing whether the tree branch used in the escape fell after morning checks had been completed". She wrote that one of the animals came close to her grandchildren, with "Belfast Zoo trying to make out it wasn't a big deal".

It is thought the trees in the chimps' enclosure had been weakened by recent storms, making them easier to break up.

Visitors said they saw the escaped chimps emerge from the bushes on to a path, as others sat on top of their enclosure wall.

He said the zoo would conduct a safety review and possibly remove some of the trees, whose limbs might facilitate future breakouts.

She said she and her companions "could not believe it" when the "smart" chimpanzees started to climb onto the branch and hopped over the wall.

But she said the animal was not aggressive and "just watched" and therefore the experience had been "amazing".

A spokesperson for Belfast city council, which runs the zoo, said one chimpanzee left its enclosure for a short time.

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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.

"I was petrified, obviously, having the kids", she added. "They grabbed wood, walked to the other side of the enclosure, put the wood against the wall and then they all lined up and started climbing up the wall".

"They're intelligent primates and know they're not supposed to be out of their enclosure, so got back in themselves", zookeeper Alyn Cairns told the BBC.

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

However, the zoo's chimpanzees were "quite cowardly" and later returned to the enclosure on their own.

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

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

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