Probe launched as monkey dies after Belfast Zoo escape

Belfast Zoo
Belfast Zoo

An investigation has been launched into how a monkey escaped from Belfast Zoo.

The spider monkey, which had escaped from the zoo on Saturday afternoon, died after being hit by a car on the M2 in north Belfast that evening.

The animal, which was spotted by a number of motorists, was recaptured and taken back to the zoo, but died shortly afterwards.

Belfast City Council is investigating how the monkey escaped its enclosure.

The zoo’s manager Alyn Cairns said the entire incident happened in the space of about half an hour.

He also said it was not yet clear how the monkey escaped.

“We have had spider monkeys in this enclosure for 40 years,” he told BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme.

“The enclosure has a combination of barriers to keep the animals in. It has a moat which is about 4-5ft deep, and it has electric fences which are strong enough to keep a bull elephant in.

“It is very upsetting. The spider monkey is a critically endangered species. We will have a full investigation into what happened.”

Mr Cairns added that he believed members of the public were not in any danger from the escaped monkey.

Alliance Councillor Michael Long said the housing of animals at the zoo is in need of urgent review.

“Nine monkeys have escaped from the zoo over the past number of years,” he added.

“I think it is important to redouble efforts and investigate exactly how the animal got out. “There is lots that the council will have to look into....to make sure the zoo is safe for animals and for the public.”