Chimp escape artists climb up branch to escape zoo enclosure

Chimpanzees using a tree branch

It made us feel at ease.

Two weeks ago a rare red panda escaped from the same zoo when its electric fences failed.

Shocked families recorded the moment the great ape pulled itself up the wall and began to roam free along the pathways in Belfast Zoo.

Another visitor, Danielle Monaghan, also told the BBC she was "petrified" the primate might "attack or take the kids". "We just walked past it and it was absolutely grand", she told the BBC. "Had it been me I'd have run for the hills".

Image copyright Chantal Baxter Image caption One chimpanzee went for a bit of a wander. They are seen using the branch to scale the wall.

Shocked visitors described seeing one of the mammals emerge from the bushes onto a path at the animal park north of the city.

"I suppose now it's easy to think it was amusing, but it was quite risky".

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They were at the zoo with Ms Monaghan's children Grace (8) and Leo (6), and Mr McFaul's four-year-old nieces Summer and Willow.

Zoo manager Alyn Cairns told the BBC that they believed that recent storms had weakened a tree in their enclosure, allowing them to snap off branches and construct the ladder.

"Zookeepers were present as the chimpanzee quickly returned from an adjacent wall to the rest of the group inside the enclosure", a spokeswoman said.

One of the animals went for a walk about the zoo before going back of its own accord.

"They're intelligent primates and know they're not supposed to be out of their enclosure, so got back in themselves", he said, according to the report.

Alliance councillor Nuala McAllister said: "I have contacted Belfast City Council to ask for an urgent review into the containment of animals, with a particular focus on safety measures after extreme bad weather conditions, as we saw at the weekend and which helped create the conditions for this escape".

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

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