The escape of four baboons from their enclosure is a unique incident. What is even more exceptional is the way the brilliant baboons strategized to gain temporary freedom.
The animal capture team of the Texas Biomedical Research Institute and the Southwest National Primate Research Center managed to recapture the baboons that breached the perimeter fencing of the research facility over the weekend.
The baboons managed to stay outside for 20 to 30 minutes.
A bystander even caught on video one baboon running down the highway and being chased by the research facility staff.
Baboons Working Together
The baboons apparently used crafty teamwork to get out. They learned to roll a 55-gallon blue barrel upright on the wall of their housing enclosure, climbed on top of the barrel, and jumped out of the wall.
Large blue barrels filled with grains are routinely used as enrichment tools for the baboons. The facility and the USDA approved for the use of the blue barrels. The baboons could roll the barrels to help mimic foraging behaviors even in captivity.
The facility's animal capture staff were instantly alerted on the escape incident when the baboons managed to get on top of the enclosure.
Once they were outside the wall, three of the four baboons were able to get past the facility's perimeter fence. One baboon turned back on its own volition.
"The actions of the animal care and capture team taken this weekend is just one example of the strong training and preparedness of animal care workers in biomedical research," says John Bernal, DVM, attending veterinarian at research institute.
The research institute also clarified that the baboons are not infected nor used in any research on infectious disease.
Animal Capture Protocols Followed
The facility's animal capture team followed protocol when they recaptured the baboons.
"Our animal capture team and the entire animal care team acted diligently and followed protocol to locate, secure and account for the baboons."
The team held three baboons on a tree line for their safe return inside the enclosure.
More than 2,500 animals held in captivity at the said bioresearch facility are considered as biomedical research animals. Around 1,100 of the captive animals are baboons. Those that escaped are among the 133 male baboons not involved in any test or medical research.
Social Media Reactions
Netizens who saw the footage and images of the escaped baboons said the animals are fleeing a facility where they are subjected to horrifying medical experiments. Some said baboons are intelligent animals that deserve protection. Many suggested that the baboons be transferred to a sanctuary.
Baboons are sociable animals. They exhibit behavioral traits considered to be "human-like." They are highly adaptable animals that follow a daily routine. They are commonly found in forests ins Central Africa.
Baboons are known research models for the study of complex diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and osteoporosis, among other ailments.