Urgent review of safety at Belfast Zoo needed says councillor after second animal escapes

Amber the red panda that escaped from Belfast Zoo.
Amber the red panda that escaped from Belfast Zoo.

Alliance North Belfast councillor Nuala McAllister has called for an urgent review into safety measures at Belfast Zoo, after a chimpanzee escaped from its enclosure yesterday.

Footage showed one chimp walking along a path beside members of the public, while other chimpanzees also climbed onto the enclosure wall after scaling tree branches propped against a wall.

The incident comes just a fortnight after a red panda escaped from its enclosure and was located at Collinbridge, in Glengormley, less than a mile from Belfast Zoo.

In a statement, Cllr. McAllister said: “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 the conditions for this escape.

“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. This incident could have easily resulted in an injury or worse – while chimps are intelligent creatures, they have been known to attack people.

“This is the second escape from the zoo this year and it is only February. While Belfast Zoo carries out good work in terms of conservation and breeding programmes, that is simply not good enough and we need to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

A spokesperson for Belfast City Council said: “Zookeepers were present as the chimpanzee quickly returned from an adjacent wall to the rest of the group inside the enclosure.”