Belfast Telegraph

Hunt on after pair of monkeys escape from Belfast Zoo

By Rebecca Black

Two monkeys remained on the run from Belfast Zoo last night after escaping their enclosure.

The lion-tailed macaques gave their zookeepers the slip yesterday morning.

Zoo staff spent the day scouring the locality for the escaped primates. Residents reported seeing several staff with nets hunting the area.

By yesterday evening the hunt had been narrowed down to the back garden of houses on Ben Madigan Park South.

Resident Andy Graham said zoo staff with binoculars and sticks were there for more than an hour after they received a report that one of the monkeys had been spotted in the garden.

He said one of the staff told him that one of the monkeys was the same one which had escaped in 2013 along with three others.

In October 2013 six lion-tailed macaques escaped from the zoo. Then Mr Graham found one of the escaped primates himself and gave it a banana before zoo staff arrived and captured it.

Earlier yesterday, a man described how he came across one of the monkeys standing on a path as he walked his dog yesterday afternoon.

"I was just walking along with the wee dog when I spotted a monkey just standing on the path," he said.

"He was about two feet tall and didn't seem bothered by us at all.

"He just kept walking on. I called the zoo and within minutes four people were here with nets.

"They're still trying to get him but it could take a while as he was climbing up as I left. As I made my way down the path I asked another walker if he had seen a monkey.

"He laughed and said he had just passed it." A spokeswoman for the zoo last night confirmed that two lion-tailed macaques had escaped.

She said they were confident the monkeys would be swiftly located.

"The two primates in question have been sighted on-site or in close proximity to the zoo," she said. "Belfast Zoo staff and the zoo vet are located in these areas and are tracking the movements of the animals.

"We are confident that the macaques will soon be returned to their enclosure.

"If anyone sees the lion-tailed macaques we would ask them to contact the zoo immediately and not attempt to approach or catch the animal."

The zoo team can be contacted on 028 9077 6277 or during out of hours on 077 9627 7414.

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