Baboon Friends Team Up To Break Out Of Research Lab
Their stint on the run was ultimately short-lived. But now, as new details have emerged describing just how they pulled it off, it’s clear that the breakout was no accident.
— WISN 12 NEWS (@WISN12News) April 16, 2018
The incident took place at the Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC), on the grounds of the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio. SNPRC is described as having the world’s largest captive baboon population — housing some 1,100 baboons used as test subjects in laboratory studies.
Those not being used in active studies apparently live here, in an open-air enclosure surrounded by walls.
On Saturday afternoon, four young male baboons managed to get up and over those walls, leaving the enclosure. Three of the baboons went on to breach the facility’s perimeter fence — escaping the compound entirely.
One baboon was seen by a passerby making his getaway down a nearby street.
JUST IN: #kens5eyewitness viewer Jannell Bouton sent us this photo of a baboon that escaped from an enclosure on Saturday afternoon. Texas Biomedical Research Institute confirms that 4 baboons, which are used for chronic disease research, did escape but are all now accounted for pic.twitter.com/nWXqCm1jQv
— Ashley Speller (@AshleyKENS5) April 15, 2018
Staff from SNPRC were dispatched to round up the escaped baboons who, if this video is any indicator, were not eager to be recaptured.
Four baboons escaped their enclosure at a San Antonio biomedical research facility Saturday. A woman then spotted one leading researchers on a wild foot chase down a Texas highway.
— ABC News (@ABC) April 15, 2018
Within about 30 minutes of the escape, however, the three escaped baboons were indeed captured and returned to SNPRC. The fourth was later accounted for as well.
But how exactly did they manage to get out in the first place?
— News 4 San Antonio (@News4SA) April 16, 2018
According to a press release from the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, the baboons’ enclosure featured several 55-gallon barrels intended as “enrichment tools” for the captive animals. But on Saturday, that enrichment evidently came in the form of their escape.
The baboons are said to have positioned one of the barrels upright alongside the wall, giving them the added height needed for them to jump up and over — effectively outwitting their captors’ best attempts to keep them in.
All the barrels have now been removed, presumably to prevent others from following suit.
This is the enclosure at @txbiomed where 133 young male baboons live. Saturday, four of them climbed a barrel and hopped the wall surrounding the enclosure. #KENS5eyewitness pic.twitter.com/C4sTpOUwle
— Jeremy Baker (@JeremyBKENS5) April 16, 2018
Though the escaped baboons are said to be “safe” now, with their captors inexplicably touting that the incident “highlights the critical role of animal care team in biomedical research,” people online aren’t all on board with that narrative.
Here’s some of what people are saying.
Everyone else was rooting for the baboons.
— Casey Mac (@WordOfCase) April 16, 2018
I respect these baboons so much. They used a 55-gallon barrel to escape from San Antonio research facility. https://t.co/HPJw6zj1WE
— Fares Sabawi (@FaresInSA) April 16, 2018
Those captured baboons have been returned to a facility that uses them for research into conditions like cancer. They can hardly be described as “safe and well” back in their enclosures as most news services have reported. Let’s call this what it is…there’s no happy ending. https://t.co/Ov6LFKxHhw
— tracy grimshaw (@tracygrimshaw) April 16, 2018
What would a happy ending for these baboons entail?
One idea for that is gaining a lot of support online.
As a doctor who performed medical research and understands its importance, I think it’s absolutely unconscionable for you to return those 4 clearly intelligent baboons who worked together back to their medical experimentation prison. The fourth guy even went back for his buddies.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) April 17, 2018
Those 4 baboons who worked together to escape your facility. Can we buy them from you and put them in a sanctuary? Name your price. I’m sure this can be arranged.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) April 17, 2018