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Baboons Escape Research Center With Barrel Used As A Ladder

CBS Local -- In a real life game of "Barrel of Monkeys," four baboons escaped a Texas research center after turning their toy barrel into a makeshift ladder.

Officials at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute say that the group of primates lifted themselves to freedom on April 14 after propping a 55-gallon barrel against the wall of their enclosure. "This was truly a unique incident," the institute's Assistant V.P. for Communications, Lisa Cruz said in a press release.

Three of the baboons were able to make their way past the center's fencing and one of the sly primates actually got to a public street. "The animal care team held two of the three baboons to the tree line, while members of the animal capture team followed one baboon along the street and used verbal and hand signaling commands to corral the baboon," Dr. John Bernal added.

According to the researchers, the large barrels were placed in the baboon enclosure as an "enrichment tool" which help the animals mimic natural foraging behavior seen in the wild. Due to the weekend escape, the institute announced that the barrels have been temporarily removed for "further assessment and modification."

The San Antonio biomedical center has over 2,500 animals at their facility which are studied to help create life-saving drugs. Officials say the 1,100 baboons at the institute have helped scientists develop treatments for chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis.

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