Zoo’s gibbon apes Prison Break

IT had all the high drama of a scene from the TV series, Prison Break.

Dublin Zoo went into lock-down mode yesterday, but it was the visitors – and not just the inmates – who were behind lock and key.

Around 200 visitors to Dublin Zoo were forced indoors in the morning after an ape and its baby escaped. All visitors were asked to stay in the zoo’s restaurant while the animals were contained.

The Siamang gibbon, which was carrying its baby, swung off the island on which they are kept and onto the main complex.

A spokeswoman for the zoo said strict escape procedures were followed and the gibbons did not pose a threat to visitors at the time and she was caught unharmed within half an hour.

That’s just as well, as Siamang gibbons can travel up to 1.6 kilometres a day in search of food. Considering the zoo is in Phoenix Park, they might also have made a nuisance of themselves if they got anywhere within howling distance of Áras an Uachtaráin.

Mated pairs of Siamang gibbons like to sing for each other, with each pair developing a unique song to communicate.

This is not the first time this year a zoo resident has been found outside the enclosures. On July 8 gardaí picked up a penguin that had been stolen from the zoo in broad daylight.

Kelli, a 10-year-old Humboldt penguin, was taken from the zoo by a trio of pranksters who scaled 4m-high perimeter fence, grabbed the bird, stuffed her into a bag and made off in a taxi.

About four hours after she went missing, a member of the public directed gardaí to Rutland Street where Kelli was discovered wandering the streets. She was returned to Dublin Zoo.

In 2008 orang-utan Maggie, who has spent more than two decades in captivity, escaped from her enclosure and wandered around the zoo for an hour.

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