Dublin Zoo monkeys staged daring escape during Storm Ophelia

Three macaques jumped from damaged enclosure with two later needing to be tranquilised

 

Three monkeys staged a daring escape at Dublin Zoo after Storm Ophelia blew the roof off a section of their enclosure last October.

Three juvenile Sulawesi crested macaques jumped 20ft from a climbing frame in the enclosure onto an electric fence overhang, before escaping into the zoo grounds, an incident report released under the Freedom of Information Act shows.

A zookeeper noticed that the monkeys were missing when he checked the enclosure that morning and an emergency team responded and located the three fugitives hanging out in a tree close to their habitat, some 65ft above ground.

Staff attempted to shoot the macaques with tranquiliser darts from a cherry picker, but were stymied by high winds and tree branches blocking their shot.

Zoo workers then pulled back from the tree and waited for the animals to climb down. When they did so some two hours after their escape was noted, one monkey was caught using a net. The other two initially evaded capture but were later tranquilised.

All three were examined by a veterinarian and returned to a secure area within their habitat, bringing their adventure to an end.

A subsequent debrief noted an “excellent response” from zoo staff, who attributed the escape to anxiety amongst the macaques as a result of “the previous evening’s wind”.

In response to the incident, Dublin Zoo undertook to repair the storm damage to the macaque house and shortened the climbing frame used in the escape.

Keepers said the electric fence overhang had been “working perfectly” when it was checked that morning. It was decided to reinforce the fence with added earth wires.

Sulawesi crested macaques belong to a critically endangered species of monkey, which can grow to 60cm in height and can weigh as much as 10kg.

Fota Wildlife Park experienced similar problems with the species in 2015, when a macaque called Stevie Wonder successfully escaped from his enclosure four times.