Sweet Success: Zoo Bribes Chimps with Concession Stand Treats

When eight chimps escaped from their living area, ice cream and sodas helped save the day

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Jomar, one of the 8 chimpanzees that escaped from its enclosure at the Twycross Zoo in Warwickshire, Britain on August 1, 2013

We’re pretty sure that ice cream and sodas wouldn’t have been enough to settle the uprising in Planet of the Apes, but yesterday at the Twycross Zoo in Warwickshire, Britain, the treats did help get some mischievous chimps back in line.

On Thursday, eight chimpanzees escaped from their normal living quarters into the secure service area within their enclosure. Sharon Redrobe, the zoo’s director, told TIME that during their usual morning move from their day space to their breakfast area, a door was left ajar, and they swiftly took the opportunity to go on a devious adventure. In the service area, the chimps seemed to have a blast as they ran around and peeked inside cupboards. The zoo’s public update, however, ensured that “at no time were the public at risk, and no people or chimps were harmed during the incident” because the chimps were still contained within the building.

Usually if a dangerous animal like a chimpanzee escapes from its area, the team first tries to lure the animals with fruits and veggies, and, in preparation for the worst, guns and rifles are always ready for anesthetization. Fruits and veggies didn’t do the trick, so the zoo decided to bribe them with ice cream and fizzy drinks instead. Sure enough, the sweet deliciousness worked, and the chimps retreated to their living area. Even though the zoo practices drills in the event of the escape of an animal, bribery with ice cream and sodas are not usually part of the program. Maybe now ice cream and sodas will be on the zoo’s emergency preparedness checklist.

Twycross Zoo is currently celebrating its 50th year as a specialist primate zoo. It houses about 900 animals and 160 different species, including a wide variety of monkeys and apes as well as the UK’s only bonobos.

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Courtesy of Twycross Zoo
Josie, one of the 8 chimpanzees that escaped from its enclosure at the Twycross Zoo.