Chimpanzees Chiko and Chikita break free, put back in zoo

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Zoo chimpanzees back in kraal after an abortive bid for freedom in Visakhapatnam

Two chimpanzees, a male and a female, made a dash for freedom at the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park here after scaling the 20-foot-high wall of their day kraal enclosure.

But their bid to get a taste of the world outside proved short-lived.

On Friday morning, zoo staff panicked after the chimps made an exit. After two hours of dramatic rescue efforts by an emergency team, Chiko (male) and Chikita (female) were recaptured and returned to their enclosure.

The zoo went into a lockdown during the operation but no visitors were in the vicinity. Three chimpanzees were brought to the zoo from Israel last June.

Curator B. Vijaykumar said a malfunction in the solar fencing was exploited by the chimps to climb the 16-foot-high wall plus a four-foot-high solar fencing.

The drama began when animal keeper Appa Rao spotted Chikita hanging out of the solar fencing, offering a hand to Chiko, who followed her out. “I was shocked. They are usually very friendly, but despite my best efforts to get them back, the two kept leaping around,” said Mr. Appa Rao.

Zoo officials were not amused when they were informed. “For a moment, I thought Appa Rao was joking. It is practically impossible for a chimp to scale a 20-foot-high enclosure,” said Ramana Bhusala, forest section officer.

Felled with a dart

The 16-member zoo emergency team rushed in with two tranquilliser guns and a blow pipe. The two 90 kilo apes swung from branch to branch, walked around the jaguar enclosure and evaded the team.

“We tried to lure them with fruits. When that failed, we had to tranquillise the female with a blow pipe. With his companion down, Chiko also returned,” said veterinarian Dr.V. Srinivas.

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