An adult chimpanzee was shot and killed after he escaped from an enclosure at the Michale E. Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research in Bastrop Wednesday morning, University of Texas police said today.
It was the second time in less than a year that a chimpanzee escaped from the campus, Assistant Police Chief Thomas Engells said. In November, a chimp named Jake escaped from the center, but he was tranquilized and returned to the center, which houses 2,000 primates.
Engells said that there has not been a trend “The only thing they have in common is that they both are chimpanzees,” Engells said.
Wednesday, a 18-year-old chimp named Tony , escaped at around 8:25 a.m., Engells said. Dr. Christian Abee, director of the center, said a team that specializes in safe animal capture techniques followed the chimpanzee across the center’s campus onto adjacent ranch land. Officials tried to capture the animal for 45 minutes and used “at least one tranquilizer dart” before a 5-year-veteran of the police department fatally shot the animal, Engells said.
Standard operating procedures for capturing escaped animals was followed in the chimpanzee’s escape, Abee said. “A chimpanzee escape is an extraordinarily rare event in most circumstances,” he added. “We are taking statements to determine what happened.”
He said that though Jake and Tony’s escapes “occurred fairly close together, they are quite different. So we have to look at them both very carefully to determine what happened and whether there were ways to prevent them.”
The police department will conduct a use of force review and investigation into the incident, which is standard procedure when an officer discharges his weapon. The officer, whose name was not released, was first commissioned as a University of Texas police officer in June 2002.
Counselors will be available at the center today and tomorrow to provide counseling for the center’s 120 employees. “A tragic event of this type takes its toll on our caregivers,” Abee said.