Four baboons housed in an outdoor corral escaped from the Texas Biomedical Research Institute (TBRI) by using a 55-gallon barrel to scale the enclosure. The clever monkeys had pulled the barrel upright, next to the barrier to gain the necessary height. Apparently, one baboon returned to the facility while the other three took off through the San Antonio neighborhood. One of the three caused a stir by running down a road with exasperated research facility staff dressed in surgical masks and gloves in pursuit.
This is not the first breach for the facility, which was fined $25,714 by the US Department of Agriculture for incidents related to the 2009 death of a juvenile rhesus monkey who escaped his enclosure and the 2010 escape of two baboons, causing employee injury. In 2015, a male baboon lifted a chute door and attacked a mother and her infant, killing the baby. And in another incident that same year, TBRI allowed three male baboons into a chute already occupied by a female, causing injuries to her. In 2017, a baboon sustained second-degree burns on his hands and feet from touching a heater pipe, while two male macaques required immediate medical attention for injuries acquired after they opened a divider between their enclosures. Of the four inspection reports since January 2016, three documented “critical” citations.
The latest incident, thankfully, resulted in no injuries (other than, perhaps, to the pride of the pursuing staff). But it offers yet another example of TBRI’s distressing track record when it comes to providing proper care for its primates.