Panic in Paris: 52 Baboons on the Loose Lead to Zoo Evacuation

Female baboon with her newborn baby. The Paris zoo where 52 baboons escaped has recaptured all but three so far. Alice Baniel

In Paris, the Vincennes Zoo is home to a variety of animals including a large population of baboons. But on Friday, all 52 baboons escaped their enclosure, prompting zoo staff to evacuate and close the park, French newspaper Le Parisien reports.

Many zoos implement training drills in case of escaped animals. The Vincennes Zoo's emergency plan was triggered as soon as someone noticed an escaped animal. Zoo staff set up a safety device and informed visitors that animals were loose in the zoo.

After a 17-hour endeavor to catch them, zookeepers caught 49 of the escapees in a net. They report that the monkeys did not attack or make any contact with visitors.

The remaining three hid in an area not accessible to the public. Le Parisien wrote that about 40 police officers and firefighters surrounded the animals. The Associated Press wrote Friday morning that there were four baboons still on the loose within the zoo.

In a press statement sent to Newsweek, the zoo confirmed that there are four baboons still awaiting capture. They wrote that an assisted animal team of the fire brigade is attempting to capture the animals. Zoo employees have sedative arrows that they plan to use to shoot the baboons and return them to their enclosures.The zoo did not immediately respond to phone call requests for comment.

There are five species of baboon, and the ones at this zoo are Guinea baboons. The zoo is careful to ensure that the baboons don't encounter guests, because the animals can be aggressive and unpredictable. While monkeys may seem less intimidating than lions and tigers, they can be dangerous too, especially in a group.

According to the website for the Vincennes Zoo, also known as the Paris Zoological Park, the facility first opened in 1934. In 2008, the zoo began major renovations to improve the structures and enclosures at the park, closing its doors until 2014.

The zoo currently holds close to a thousand animals, representing 180 species, including antelopes, rhinos, and lions. The design of their enclosures are intended to look like the animals' native ecosystems. The Guinea monkeys, from West Africa, are housed in an open-air area with artificial rocks and trees. The area has spaces for the monkeys to hide from the sun and rain, but the area itself doesn't have a roof.