Worker blamed for gibbon's escape

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 October, 2011, 12:00am


The escape of a gibbon that scampered around Central for two hours on Wednesday before being recaptured has been blamed on a worker's mistake.

The oversight occurred when the employee of the Zoological and Botanical Gardens was cleaning a cage where four buff-cheeked gibbons, an endangered species, were housed, a Leisure and Cultural Services Department spokesman said yesterday.

When he was finished, the cleaner failed to watch closely enough as the apes returned to their cage from a nearby enclosure.

He saw three of them return, but didn't check on the fourth animal, which hid high in the enclosure then managed to sneak out when an employee opened its door.

'The cause of the incident was due to the failure of the park employee to check thoroughly whether all the four gibbons had returned to the original enclosure before opening the gate of the spare enclosure for cleaning,' the spokesman said.

The enclosure's design was not at fault.

The gibbon sneaked out of the zoo in Albany Road, Central, at 10.45am on Wednesday.

During the next half hour it was spotted at the busy junction of Robinson and Old Peak roads, Hollywood Heights and at 6 Old Peak Road, before it scampered into the car park at Villa Elegance in Robinson Road, where it hid under a vehicle.

A veterinarian from the department, which manages the zoo, shot the gibbon with a tranquilliser dart at 12.45pm, but it still managed to climb a nearby bamboo scaffolding before falling, unconscious, to the ground.

It was returned to the zoo uninjured.

Guidelines on caring for zoo animals and dealing with escapees will be reviewed in the wake of this case.