Mr Wilks's monkey business puts Chester Zoo on alert


Steve Creswell

A CHEEKY monkey escaped from his enclosure at Chester Zoo – and had to be darted with a tranquilliser gun.

Mr Wilks, an endangered Sulawesi macaque, was spotted by a visitor who quickly alerted staff.

A section of the site was closed as vets tried to coax the wily creature back to his home, while visitors were given free refreshments by way of ‘ape-ology’.

Tim Rowlands, the zoo’s curator of mammals, said: “Mr Wilks was spotted by a visitor and our teams were quickly on hand. He was being a bit of a rascal about returning but he’s now safely back.

“Visitors were kept out of the rain and offered free refreshments. We would like to thank them for their help and co-operation.”

One visitor said she and her son had arrived at the zoo at 11.30am to find people sheltering in the coffee house while staff tried to catch Mr Wilks.

Another reportedly said: “It could be worse – at least it wasn’t one of the lions!”

A zoo spokesman added: “Some of the pathways in the zoo and one animal house were closed for a spell on Friday morning. Every effort had been made to encourage Mr Wilks back to his enclosure under his own steam. However he was reluctant to do so and was eventually darted by the veterinary team.”

Chester Zoo has 23 Sulawesi macaques, 13 females and 10 males, and has kept the species since 1975.

Macaques are native to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and are listed by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as critically endangered, meaning the species is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.

They are the most endangered of the seven macaque species that live on the island of Sulawesi.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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