Video: Belfast Zoo's runaway monkey Roxy caught in city garden
Published 02/11/2013 | 01:30
This is zoo escapee Roxy enjoying her last moments of freedom – just before the intrepid monkey was recaptured in a dramatic operation.
The Belfast Telegraph yesterday had exclusive access to witness events unfold as plucky Roxy, a lion-tailed macaque who escaped from her zoo home 11 days before, attempted to defy capture.
The adventurous monkey is the last of six who broke out of Belfast Zoo last week, sparking a widespread hunt.
The alarm was raised yesterday afternoon when she was spotted close to homes in the Ben Madigan area of north Belfast, not far from the zoo.
The rescue operation began when the elusive Roxy was seen by a builder who warned resident Andy Graham to keep his door shut, telling him there was a monkey in the neighbourhood.
Mr Graham (48) alerted his family and rushed out to the street armed with a couple of bananas.
He spotted Roxy fleeing in to his neighbour's garden next door.
"I immediately called the zoo and then followed Roxy into the garden," Mr Graham told this newspaper.
"The monkey was up at the very top of a big pine tree and I held out a banana to her and she came slowly down from the tree. She was clearly starving and she took the banana right out of my hand. I gave her another and she ate it right beside me."
Four zoo keepers arrived at the scene moments later armed with a dart gun, only for Roxy to climb back up to the top of the tree having finished her snack.
"She recognised the zoo keepers dressed in black immediately," said Mr Graham's wife Bronach Anglin. "We all surrounded the tree taking photos of the monkey on our phones as Andrew the zoo keeper shot her with a bright red dart."
But Roxy wasn't going to surrender that easily.
"She yanked the dart out of herself and threw it away," added Ms Anglin.
"Andrew shot her a second time and she yanked that one out too. She then fell asleep on a branch. Andrew had to climb up an adjoining tree and shake the branch that Roxy was sat on to dislodge her. She then fell from the tree in to the net below."
The monkey was returned to the zoo where she was reunited with her troop. Roxy is the last to return home after the six cunning monkeys wrong-footed their keepers and escaped from the zoo on October 20. Three of them returned by their own accord and three had to be rescued.
One was reportedly "rugby tackled" in Belfast Castle and the other was given an anaesthetic shot.
"It is not very often that we have so many monkeys escape at once, there must have been something that spooked them," said Andrew Hope, who recaptured all three animals.
"The bottom line is that the monkeys were upset or disturbed by something, it could've been caused by the larger occurrence of fireworks.
"A branch had also fallen on the electric fence (at the monkey enclosure), so it wasn't working so well."