Northern Ireland

Search under way for monkeys missing from Belfast zoo

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Media captionOne monkey was captured in the grounds of Belfast Castle

A search is continuing for two monkeys who escaped from their enclosure at Belfast zoo.

Six lion-tailed macaques managed to get out on Monday - four have since been returned.

The other two monkeys have been seen in the grounds or near the zoo.

Belfast zoo said it has been monitoring their movements and has positioned a number of traps and staff in the areas where the missing animals have been seen.

One of the monkeys was captured by zoo keepers in the grounds of Belfast Castle.

The incident was filmed by Michael McGowan, who was walking his dog in the castle grounds at the time.

Mr McGowan told the BBC he spotted the monkey shortly before it leapt on to a window ledge on the castle.

"The dog took a second glance, I took a second glance, and the monkey wasn't in the least bit worried about human beings being about," he added.

Image caption One of the escaped monkeys perched on a peace wall fence at Hazelwood Integrated primary school

He said zoo keepers arrived with a dart gun to sedate the animal, but it tried to escape before they could fire a shot, so one keeper "rugby tackled" the monkey to the ground.

Another one of the monkeys made a surprise appearance on a "peace wall" fence at a primary school in Newtownabbey on Thursday morning.

The animal perched on the fence at Hazelwood Integrated school, on the Whitewell Road, during the school run.

Tricia Douglas, a teacher in the school's nursery department, took a photograph of the unusual visitor who appeared shortly after she arrived for work.

Ms Douglas said a classroom assistant had noticed the monkey at about 08:30 BST and the school authorities then alerted the zoo.

She said the schoolchildren were excited by the sight of the monkey and offered him some bananas, which he came down off the fence to collect and eat.

However, she added that the animal ran off before zookeepers arrived to catch it.

Belfast zoo manager, Mark Challis, said: "We are confident that all of the macaques will soon be found and returned to their enclosure."

"If anyone sees the lion-tailed macaques we would ask them to contact the zoo immediately.

"Although they pose no danger to the public, we would ask that you do not attempt to approach or catch the animal.

"The zoo team can be contacted on 028 9077 6277."

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