Baboons escaped a biomedical research facility over the weekend with the help of a 55-gallon barrel. Gizmodo reported that one clever baboon figured out how to turn a barrel upright and use it to climb fencing. Three others followed and the group hit the road, although one returned on its own — but sadly, their freedom didn’t last long.
Baboons hit the road after escaping from a Texas Biomedical Research Institute (TBRI) facility. Inward-leaning walls on their open-air enclosure (seen in the video above) have kept animals from leaving in the past 35 or so years, but that didn’t stop these primates. According to the institute’s statement, the animals rolled the barrel to an upright position to ultimately jump out of the enclosure. An animal capture team, wearing protective masks and suits, captured the three animals who did leave around 20-30 minutes after. Two baboons were held to the tree line, but one made it to a nearby street. ABC News shared a video on Twitter of members of the team chasing one of the baboons on a Texas highway.
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
There are over 2,500 animals at the institute’s campus; almost 1,100 are baboons. These four escapees were part of a group of 133 males, according to HuffPost, that aren’t currently being used for testing. TBRI assistant vice president for communications Lisa Cruz said in the institute’s statement baboons “have played an important role in the discovery of life-saving drugs, therapies, and vaccines and have led to greater understanding of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and so much more that impact the lives of millions of people.”
The barrels, introduced in the enclosure just six to eight months ago, were what TBRI calls enrichment tools, and they’ve been removed. TBRI reported the returned baboons are doing well, but not everyone on social media thinks the baboons should have had to go back to the institute. People on Twitter called for the primates to find a new home in an animal sanctuary.
This is heartbreaking. 4 baboons worked together to roll a 55 gallon barrel and escape the research facility where they were subject to horrifying medical experiments. They earned their freedom. Let them go to a sanctuary. Some animals are too sentient to be subjected to this. https://t.co/pWiykNdAW8
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) April 17, 2018
Four baboons planned their escape from your facility and escaped by positioning a 55 pound barrel so they could climb out. What does that tell you about your facility? You make me sick @txbiomed – have the decency to send them to a sanctuary. https://t.co/jRhD9xjG2L
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) April 17, 2018