Chimps escape enclosure at Belfast Zoo during Storm Erik

Staff writer

Chimpanzees at the Belfast Zoo in Northern Ireland roamed freely after escaping their enclosure with the help of a large limb blown into the area by Storm Erik on Saturday.

Families were shocked when they came across an escaped chimp. One mum Danielle Monaghan said she was "petrified" the animal might "attack or take the kids".

Video posted to Facebook shows chimpanzees climbing a tree branch, which conveniently fell against the enclosure wall, before jumping and catching the lip of the concrete wall. A second clip shows one of the animals roaming freely near a internal road. Four animals made the escape, according to an eyewitness who spoke to the BBC.

Alan Cairns, a zoo spokesperson, told media that the chimpanzees were only briefly out of their enclosures as zoo personnel were on hand to return them. Alan Cairns told BBC the animals returned to their enclosure on their own accord.

The branch used by the escapees fell into the enclosure due to the high winds delivered by Storm Erik. Gust reached more than 70 miles per hour in Northern Ireland on February 8 due to the storm, the Met Office reported.