A chimpanzee escaped from Belfast Zoo two weeks after a red panda did the same

A chimpanzee escaped from Belfast Zoo two weeks after a red panda did the same
Belfast Zoo is facing mounting pressure for a safety review after a resident chimpanzee escaped from its enclosure (Photo: Shutterstock)

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.

‘Highly unusual’

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.

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.

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.”