Havoc as Edinburgh Zoo hogs make a dash for it
HUNDREDS of visitors to Edinburgh Zoo had to seek shelter after a family of hogs escaped from keepers and ran amok.
Guests who took refuge in the monkey house described amazing scenes as zoo staff, armed with sweeping brushes and dart guns, pursued the Red River hogs.
One of the animals reached the enclosure belonging to the star attraction, the giant pandas.
After a drama lasting more than an hour, two hot and angry adult hogs, each weighing 200lb, were shot with tranquilliser darts and captured unharmed.
The scenes unfolded as zoo staff tried to transfer the animals – Hamish, Belle and daughters Winnie and Wilma – to a private collection.
One of the adults broke through a barrier and the rest of the family followed suit.
Darren McGarry, the head of animals at the zoo, said: “Four red river hogs made a dash for it early this morning. Select areas of the park were closed, with visitors being moved into internal areas where necessary.
“All of the pigs remained on park grounds, three in the vicinity of their enclosure, with one travelling down to the panda enclosure. We suspect she wanted to see what all the fuss was about before she moved off to her new home.
“Our keeping staff are highly trained for eventualities like this and handled the incident quickly and efficiently, recapturing the animals in a short period of time.”
According to one witness, part of the training for recapturing hogs appears to involve chasing them with brushes.
Raymond Richmond, 46, who was enjoying a day out with partner Debbie Morgan, 49, said: “We were heading to the monkey house and the staff came running up and said: ‘We’ve got to escort you to a safe area’.
“I saw two men with brushes chasing the hogs past the monkey house, heading towards the reception area,” said Mr Richmond. “We were in the monkey house for an hour.”
Stephen McDiarmid, 39, visiting the zoo from Perth, said: “One of the hogs came running down the road and we had to be shepherded into the monkey house until it was safe.
“There was a couple of keepers chasing them with brooms in their hands. We hid in the monkey house for half an hour, then they moved us to reception.”
But Mr McDiarmid added: “It hadn’t spoiled our day.”
Friends Debbie Noel and Janice Macdonald hid in the zoo café.
Ms Noel said: “We saw the keepers running about and we saw them coming with a tranquilliser gun and a crate.
“Café staff kept us informed; we were told one of them went to the pandas. They said they had been moved enclosure and they must have been trying to get back to their old one.”
Ms Macdonald added: “The man at the Grasslands café said he’d gone to take the bin out and one of them ran at the café window.”
Another zoo goer, who did not want to be named, said she and her two granddaughters missed their appointed time for seeing the pandas.
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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