& # 39; Someone could have been injured, or worse & # 39; - advocates an evaluation of safety at the Belfast Zoo after escapes from chimpanzees

There have been calls for action after a number of chimpanzees on Saturday escaped from their stay at the Belfast Zoo.

The chimpanzees used tree branches to scale the wall of their enclosure, with one running along a path used by members of the public.

Holywood-man Dean McFaul was next to the enclosure with his family and said that at one point a chimpanzee was "right next to my foot".

Mr. McFaul said that the animals were not aggressive and that he was in no way concerned about his safety.

However, the Green Party leader, Claire Bailey, said that it was fortunate that no one was injured during the incident.

"I saw video's of the escape and showed it was cool, calm and well executed," she said.

"We really have to look at what's going on at Belfast Zoo.

"I would like to make an appointment with the zoo and have these conversations."

Former Lord Mayor of Belfast Nuala McAllister called for an urgent review of security measures at the zoo after the second outbreak of the year.

Last month the red panda Amber saved her after two electricity fences in the zoo were missing.

She was finally found safe in Collinbridge, a residential area 1.5 km from the grounds of the zoo.

The Belfast spokesman, Alan Cairns, said the chimpanzees could have escaped because the trees in their living space had been damaged by recent stormy weather.

He said that they only stayed outside their enclosure for a short time before they returned, because they were "rather cowardly".

Alliance party councilor Ms. McAllister said that someone was badly injured during the incident.

"The Council has a duty of care with regard to the welfare of animals in the zoo, but we must also ensure the safety of the public at all times.This incident could easily lead to an injury or worse – while chimpanzees are intelligent creatures known that they are attacking people, "she said.

"This is the second escape from the zoo this year and it is only February, although the Belfast Zoo is working well in nature conservation and breeding programs, that's just not good enough and we have to make sure it's not happens again. "

SDLP representative Northern Belfast Heather Wilson said that council members from her party would raise the security problem at a future city council meeting.

She called for improvements and investments in the zoo to prevent such incidents in the future.

"The zoo is an excellent asset to Belfast and attracts thousands of visitors annually to the north of our city," Wilson said.

"It is vital that the future of Belfast Zoo is discussed at the next Belfast City Council meeting and I have been in contact with SDLP colleagues to ensure that this is the case."

Belfast Telegraph Digital