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 20 feet 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 in a tree close to their habitat, some 20m above ground. Attempts to shoot the macaques with tranquiliser 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. It 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”.
The report also contained a number of recommendations, including advice that vacancies resulting from retirements on the zoo’s ethics committee should be filled by members reflecting a variety of experience.
It 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 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 the BIAZA, EAZA and WAZA associations, the highest quality standards in the world, and is inspected annually by the department,” he said.
“Dublin Zoo works tirelessly to ensure that we not only meet, but exceed standards and expectations.”
Inspectors praised its link-up with the RTÉ television series, The Zoo, and commended the “good and well-thought-out range of conservation projects” in which Dublin Zoo is involved.