A chimp has freed itself from Belfast Zoo less than a month after a red panda escaped, raising questions over the safety measures in place.
The zoo is now facing mounting pressure for a safety review following the two incidents, which took place within two weeks of each other.
The chimpanzee escaped from its enclosure after creating an improvised ladder from tree branches which were propped up against a wall.
Some of the zoo’s other chimpanzees remained on the wall above the enclosure, while one jumped out and walked along a path where members of the public were standing.
It is believed that the trees in the enclosure had been weakened by recent storms, making them easier for the chimps to break up.
Incredible footage has emerged showing how the Chimpanzee’s escaped from Belfast Zoo today – using lose branches left by Storm Erik to get over their enclosure wall. 🐒🙊 pic.twitter.com/8sQf6YIJvo
— Stuart Robinson (@stuartrobinson1) February 9, 2019
Belfast Zoo described the incident as “highly unusual”, and said additional checks were being carried out.
A spokeswoman told the BBC, “We would like to reassure the public that Belfast Zoo is fully committed to providing a safe and enjoyable experience for all our visitors.
“Zookeepers carry out a range of checks as part of their daily duties, including ensuring enclosures are free from objects which could pose a security risk to animals or visitors.
“Zoo management is assessing whether the tree branch used in the escape fell after morning checks had been completed.”
‘An urgent review’
The recent incident has renewed calls for a safety review at the zoo, to identify where improvements can be made.
This is how close it came to my grandchildren. Belfast Zoo trying to make out it wasn’t a big deal pic.twitter.com/J38lBJyef4
— Elaine Monaghan (@1607_elaine) February 9, 2019
Alliance councillor Nuala McAllister said she had contacted Belfast City Council, who run the zoo, about a conducting a review.
“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 conditions for this escape,” she commented.
“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.”