Chimpanzees Use Branch as Ladder to Escape Enclosure at Belfast Zoo

The animal escapees eventually went back into their enclosure by themselves

Chimpanzee monkey on a trees over blue skyCredit: R. Tsubin/Getty
Photo: R. Tsubin/Getty

It looks like the start of a Planet of the Apes movie, but this great ape escape is very real.

According to The Guardian, a group of chimpanzees got out of their enclosure at the Belfast Zoo on Saturday by using a broken branch as a ladder.

The branch, broken by a recent storm in Belfast, Ireland, allowed the chimps to scale their exhibit’s high walls. The escape was captured on camera by zoo guest, Danielle Monaghan, who then posted the successful exit on social media.

Visitors to the Belfast Zoo also posted footage online of what happened after the apes got our of their enclosure. In the clips, the animal escapees are shown roaming around zoo, getting within feet of the park’s human visitors.

Monaghan, a mother of two near the chimpanzee exhibit with her kids when the animals escaped, told BBC that at first she was worried that apes might “attack or take the kids.” After it became clear the chimps weren’t aggressive, Monaghan said she found the up-close experience to be “grand.”

The escape didn’t cause any serious snags for the zoo, mostly because the apes let themselves back in.

“They’re intelligent primates and know they’re not supposed to be out of their enclosure, so got back in themselves,” zookeeper Alyn Cairns told BBC, adding that the animals are “quite cowardly.”

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According to Belfast city council, which operates the zoo, only one chimp fully left the exhibit, and they quickly returned to their enclosure under the watchful eye of a zookeeper.

While the Belfast zoo likes to make their enclosures as “natural” as possible, Cairns said, they will likely remove or shorten some of the trees in the chimpanzee exhibit to prevent another escape.

This not the first escape for this Belfast Zoo in 2019. A red panda named Amber briefly went missing from her enclosure last month, reports The Guardian. She was later found in a garden near the zoo and returned to her enclosure.

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