herald

Saturday 24 August 2019

Monkey trio's great escape sparks bad weather break-out plan at zoo

Macaques made a daring escape after a roof blew off their cage
Macaques made a daring escape after a roof blew off their cage

Dublin Zoo has introduced contingency plans for animal escapes in adverse weather conditions after three monkeys broke out of their enclosure when a roof was damaged during Storm Ophelia.

Three juvenile Sulawesi crested macaques jumped six metres from a climbing frame on to an electric fence overhang before escaping into the zoo grounds after the roof blew off a section of their enclosure in October 2017.

They were later discovered hanging out in a tree close to their habitat, some 20 metres above ground. Attempts to shoot the macaques with tranquilliser darts in the tree proved unsuccessful, but they were eventually recaptured when they descended from the branches.

The zoo has since introduced a policy for dealing with animal escapes resulting from bad weather events, according to the latest inspection report from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The report, which was released under the Freedom of Information Act, noted the addition of the new policy, and commended Dublin Zoo for its high standards of veterinary care and staff training.

It also praised the zoo for its provision of "extensive and versatile" reserve accommodation for use in the event that certain animals need to be isolated.

Flamingo

The report noted that an additional area had been added to the flamingo enclosure in case birds have to be confined due to a "national avian influenza situation".

A number of recommendations were also contained in the report, including that adviser vacancies resulting from retirements on the zoo's ethics committee, should be filled by members reflecting a variety of experience.

While the departmental inspectors stated that Dublin Zoo appeared to be very clean, they recommended that it review the placement and use of footbaths on sections to reduce the risk of potential disease spread.

They also recommended that a minimum of four animal escape drills should be carried out each year, and that at least two of these should simulate escapes involving "hazardous" animals.

A spokesperson for Dublin Zoo said that the "minor recommendations" contained in the report had been noted, and that they were in the process of being implemented at present.

"Dublin Zoo operates in accordance with the strict professional standards required from [zoo associations] BIAZA, EAZA and WAZA, the highest quality standards in the world, and is inspected annually," he said.

Meanwhile, Met Eireann said that it will be dry and bright in the east of the country at first today, but there will be scattered showers in the west.

These showers will become widespread through the course of the afternoon and evening.

Highest temperatures in Dublin will be 20C to 21C.

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