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Chimp escape a worry

THE fact that chimpanzees escaped from their enclosure at Belfast Zoo on Saturday must be a serious cause for concern to those responsible for the running of the facility.

Thankfully no members of the public or staff were injured and the chimps involved apparently went back into their enclosure after a short period of
freedom.

A woman said four of her grandchildren witnessed the incident and apparently came reasonably close to at least one of the escaped creatures. She quite correctly stated that things could have “ended badly”.

While many will probably consider these particular animals as friendly, funny and very intelligent, it must be remembered that they are kept in an enclosure and away from contact with visitors to the zoo for a very good reason. They are wild animals.

That does not mean they behave in an aggressive way at all times. But that is not the point. If one of them had behaved violently towards any people in the zoo on Saturday, things could very easily have ended badly.

A member of staff speculated that the recent stormy weather may have weakened tree branches in the enclosure and that the chimps, because they are highly intelligent, clambered up a branch to reach a wall and, from there, the paths used by visitors.

This is not the first time that animals have escaped from Belfast Zoo. There were incidents in 2013 and 2017 and last year a spider monkey died after being hit by a car as it walked on the M2. As with Saturday’s incident, no people were hurt in any of the previous escapes.

It is important that visitors to the popular tourist destination are assured of their safety and to that end the security of the various enclosures and compounds must be constantly monitored.

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