Chimpanzees at the Belfast Zoo took a downed branch as opportunity to make a great escape — sort of.
Zoo visitors Danielle Monaghan and Dean McFaul filmed the incredible incident as one chimp after another used a fallen tree limb to hop up onto the exterior wall of the chimpanzee enclosure.
The chimps actually carried the branch over to the wall and propped it up, Monaghan explained later. She said she was both fascinated and “absolutely petrified” by what they saw as the zoo was closing.
“Don’t escape you bad little gorilla,” her daughter could be heard saying off camera in the video.
The Great (ape) Escape!!!
These chimps at Belfast Zoo used a broken tree branch as a ladder today.
Video credit: Danielle Monaghan and Dean McFaul pic.twitter.com/Y9pEVOI65y
— U105 (@U105radio) February 9, 2019
The animals climbed up onto a wall, and then at least one briefly wandered along an pathway.
The couple continued filming as the chimp went for a walk.
“Stay there dude,” McFaul can be heard saying as the chimp stops to take a break.
These visitors got more than they bargained for when a chimpanzee escaped from its enclosure at Belfast Zoo today 🐒🍌
🎥 Dean McFaul pic.twitter.com/yK5Puemv6q
— Cool FM (@coolfm) February 9, 2019
The videos are incredible.
Zoo-goer Chantal Baxter also filmed part of the encounter.
“Got a bit more than we bargained for at Belfast Zoo today,” she posted on Facebook Saturday, “when the chimps decided to escape and take a stroll 🐵 #belfastzoo.”
For a brief time the chimps were on the loose.
While some visitors were frightened, the chimps actually didn’t bother anybody.
“It’s fair to say we got our money’s worth,” Baxter told Belfast Live.
Alyn Cairns, a zoo spokesperson, told the BBC storms weakened trees in and around the enclosure sending branches into the enclosure.
The chimps went back into their exhibit themselves.
“They’re intelligent primates and know they’re not supposed to be out of their enclosure, so got back in themselves,” he explained.
The zoo will review the natural elements of the enclosure.
“We may have to remove the trees or make them a smaller level,” Cairns told the BBC, “although we don’t want to do that.”
Last month, one of the zoo’s red pandas made a dash for the outside world, but was quickly recaptured.
So this latest incident spurred a few jokes.
They may as well just leave the gates open at Belfast zoo. The animals seem to escape often enough as it is. https://t.co/Ho0mCPVQMm
— Paul Convery (@Ravenblade86) February 9, 2019
“Staff are currently assessing how the chimp planned his escape from the enclosure …”. 👀😂😁
Watch: Shock as chimpanzee escapes from enclosure at Belfast Zoo https://t.co/QFjk5g5c0X
— Carole (Ducky) (@IrPsych) February 9, 2019
After at least one adult chimpanzee escapes from @BelfastZoo the greatest care needs to be taken when caring for these intelligent great apes. This incident could easily have ended in tragedy. This is unacceptable https://t.co/06FbTx2MMZ @BIAZA @JaneGoodallUK @PrimateSociety
— Prof Ben Garrod (@Ben_garrod) February 9, 2019
As Monaghan said after, “We’re just sitting here going it could have turned a whole different way.”
Photos Chantal Baxter/Facebook