Belfast Telegraph

Chimp break-out at Belfast Zoo prompts call for safety review

By Adrian Rutherford

Pressure is growing for a review of safety measures at Belfast Zoo after chimpanzees escaped from their enclosure.

The animals got out after making an improvised ladder from tree branches. One chimp jumped out and walked along a path with members of the public, while others sat on a wall above the enclosure and watched.

It is the second incident at the zoo in as many weeks, after a red panda escaped late last month.

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

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.

"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."

Green party leader Clare Bailey told the BBC: "We need to really start looking at what's going on at Belfast Zoo.

"I would be keen to meet up with the zoo (managers) and have these conversations."

Dean McFaul and Danielle Monaghan, from Holywood, Co Down, filmed the escape.

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. Mr McFaul said the escape appeared to be "orchestrated" and the chimpanzees worked as a team to flee.

"They started walking out of the hut one by one, it was like they organised what they were going to do," he said.

Belfast Zoo said Saturday's incident was "highly unusual".

A spokesperson for the Belfast City Council-owned facility, said: "We would like to reassure the public that Belfast Zoo is fully committed to providing a safe and enjoyable experience for all our visitors."

Belfast Telegraph

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