11th February 2019

A group of chimpanzees escaped their enclosure at Belfast Zoo on Saturday, after building a 'ladder' out of a tree. 

Alarmingly reports of the incident show that the public were in the zoo at the time and some families were just feet away from one of the chimps. Eventually, the chimpanzees returned to their enclosure of their own accord. 

Campaigns Director, Nicola O'Brien commented,

Of course the chimps were resourceful and found a way to escape their enclosure, they are intelligent animals who shouldn't be held captive. The zoo, and its visitors, have had a lucky escape. The outcome could have been so much worse. Chimpanzees are incredibly strong and have left grown adults with long lasting injuries. 

This is not the first time an animal has escaped the zoo. Just last month a red panda escaped who was found wandering the streets. Last June, a spider monkey was knocked over on the motorway after escaping the zoo. 

Nicola continued,

What is going on at Belfast Zoo? Last month a red panda escaped, this month the chimpanzees. We have had concerns about this zoo for a long time and are calling for an inspection to take place. 

Clare Bailey, Leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland has called for a meeting with the zoo managers to address concerns.

Back in 2017 a review of the zoo carried out by the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums pointed out a list of animal welfare concerns at the zoo and stated that many of the enclosures were too small. The zoo, which is ran by the local authority has also suffered huge financial losses in recent years.