An adventurous orang-utan went on-the-run yesterday in Dublin Zoo, making a bold bid for freedom after 24 years in captivity.
Maggie left her baby Mujur behind and managed to enjoy an hour on the loose wandering around in front of her enclosure.
Zookeepers believe the 26-year-old ape made a long stretch for branches at the edge of the compound, grabbed a wall and climbed over at around midday.
The alarm was raised within minutes, but it was an hour before zookeepers managed to confront Maggie and shoot her with a tranquilliser dart gun.
A group of 26 schoolchildren and their two teachers from Scoil Mhuire gan Smal in Dublin's Inchicore raised the alarm after Maggie escaped.
They had been admiring the other two adult orang-utans when one of the 12-year-olds spotted the ape on the loose only yards away.
Maggie had climbed the perimeter wall of her enclosure and was standing in front of a neighbouring compound housing snow leopards.
Zookeepers were on the scene within minutes to marshall the youngsters away from the area.
But within the hour Maggie had been tranquilised and was safely back in the compound.
A spokeswoman for the zoo said Maggie spent the evening sleeping off the effects of the sedatives.
"Having been in the same habitat for 24 years she seemingly decided she would make her way out,'' the zoo spokeswoman said.
"She reached branches, climbed a wall and spent around one hour wandering about the vicinity of the enclosure.''
It is not known why the normally protective Maggie, who weighs a trim 34 kilos, decided to leave two-and-a-half-year-old baby Muhur behind. Dublin Zoo said there had not been any rows or fights involving the other two adult orang-utans in the enclosure.
Orang-utans are not considered aggressive animals and the zoo stressed that no visitors were in any danger.
Dublin Zoo management will carry out an investigation into the escape in the coming weeks.