A MONKEYhouse at Edinburgh Zoo had to be cleared today (Thu) after a baboon escaped from its enclosure.
Zoo chiefs were left with cheeks as red as the baboon’s because the incident happened as the national press gathered for a planned photo opportunity.
Showing skill and daring befitting Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, the Gelada Baboon snuck past an electric fence in its bid for freedom.
The incident, which happened just after 3pm, was witnessed by Marie Turner who was visiting with her boyfriend.
“We were in the viewing hut and there was a monkey and it was just sitting beside the fence, then it started to climb up and it stuck its head out the top a few times.
“It obviously realized it could get out and so is sat on the roof of the hut eating. “
“We were all taken out so they could catch it. We were out for about 20 minutes,
“It was just a young one “
A zoo insider said the incident was a
“He’s just a tiny little thing and he did a backflip and managed to get out. He popped back in ten minutes later.
“It’s unusual for there to be so many baby baboons and keepers will be making modifications to the electric fence. “
Darren McGarry, Animal Collection Manager for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), which owns Edinburgh Zoo, said:’Our young gelada baboons were having a great time playing in their enclosure, when one climbed up and slipped through the electric fence around the perimeter of the enclosure. It’s virtually unheard of for a baby to be brave enough to do this, normally they stick close to mum, and he’s only been able to as he’s so small.
“He entertained surprised visitors by walking among the outside wall of the enclosure, sitting on the viewing hut and then dropping back into the enclosure. He was out for about 10 minutes. There was no danger to visitors – he’s just a baby, but also Gelada Baboons are pretty placid.
“As he’s such a brave little fella, keepers are now moving the electric fence closer to the enclosure wall. “
The escapee has since been named McQueen by zoo staff, in honour of his Hollywood counterpart.
The Gelada baboon is native to Africa and lives only in a small area of Ethiopia.