Chimps escape from Kansas zoo

6:42 PM, Jul 20, 2010   |    comments
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Justin Kraemer, KSNW (Witchita)

Zoo keepers at Kansas' Sedgwick County Zoo got quite the surprise Sunday morning when they discovered all the chimps escaped from their enclosure.

They didn't get far and Monday officials said the whole incident actually shows the zoo is safe.

According to zoo keepers, the chimps are amongst the smartest animals they have and they proved it over the weekend when they figured a way to get out of their cage inside their exhibit.

"Our keepers were greeted warmly on Sunday morning by one of our chimps, our longtime resident, Marbles," said Christan Baumer with the Sedgwick County Zoo. "If you know Marbles, that's not necessarily unusual. But what wasn't quite right was Marbles wasn't where he was supposed to be."

A keeper left a door unlocked Saturday evening and with their opposable thumbs and clever brains, the chimps figured out a way to open it.

They didn't get far, though.

They all wound up trapped in a secondary containment area where they safely sat until Sunday morning.

"The reason for that is we always build redundancies into the exhibits for the safety of our keepers, our guests, as well as for the safety of the animals," Baumer said. "There would have to be multiple mistakes, multiple things done in order for one for them to get out the primary containment area and then for them to breach secondary containment areas."

Visitors were briefly kept away while the chimps were rounded up and put back where they belong, behind a thick layer of glass where everyone can safely see them.

The zoo runs drills every couple of months with a keeper posing as an escaped animal so staff can practice their protocol on how they handle the situation.

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