Melbourne Zoo in lockdown after false alarm of baboon escape sparks chaos

An false alarm has sparked chaos at Melbourne Zoo earlier today as patrons feared there was a baboon on the loose.

Visitors to the zoo were either evacuated or put into lockdown this afternoon after an emergency alarm was activated, according to social media posts, with fears a baboon had escaped.

“Fun start to 2024 having to leave @ZoosVictoria #melbournezoo as an animal had escaped its enclosure!” one visitor named Evelyn Parr wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“Mr nearly 4 keeps saying he wonders what the animal is doing, but I feel for the zookeepers and hope they’re safe.”

“An unexpected behind the scenes look at Melbourne Zoo … Keepers running isn’t a good sign,” wrote another patron named Glenn.

“We were behind a gate but there was still people in the normal area. We were then told only to head toward the main gate but everyone was pretty much going about their normal day.

“So it was a baboon that got out. Took about 10 minutes to get it back in. Then they checked the fences.”

However, according to Melbourne Zoo, there was no emergency and the entire saga was simply a false alarm due to an emergency alert being “mistakenly activated”.

“Melbourne Zoo went into lockdown for less than 10 minutes this afternoon when an Emergency Alert was mistakenly activated,” a spokesperson for Melbourne Zoo said in a statement.

“There was no emergency and visitors were able to continue enjoying their Zoo visit.”

When asked how an emergency alert could accidentally be activated, the spokesperson told that they were reviewing how this occurred.

They added that the zoo’s process is to “immediately action emergency procedures while the situation is being assessed” and therefore today’s lockdown was “standard practice”.

The zoo’s Hamadryas baboons are located on the main trail through the park and are a popular attraction.

Melbourne Zoo’s website states that in the north east African Savannah, “baboons come together in troops of up to 400 animals”.

“Each baboon’s role within the extended family is reinforced through constant interactions,” their website states.

“Other social cues include their pink posteriors, with an enlarged, bright rear signalling the dominant male.”

While baboons are usually indifferent to humans, they can attack when provoked and are potentially very dangerous due to their sharp teeth and claws.

Back in August 2023, Perth Zoo was partially evacuated after a gibbon escaped its enclosure.

The animal managed to swing out of its habitat, prompting a speedy response from zoo staff.

In November 2022, five lions escaped from Sydney’s Taronga Zoo due to a failure in the park’s fences.

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