Residents of West of Mines in the central parts of the Plateau State capital, Jos are apprehensive over the escape of two chimpanzees from a nearby zoo.
The two chimps - a male and a female, escaped confinement at the federal government owned National Museum and Monuments, on Tuesday.
The circumstance of the escape was not immediately known, but it was rumoured that the apes forced their way out of a rusty cage, in search of food.
Early reports suggested that the female was lured back into the cage after hours of banters with the apes on Tuesday, while the male, named Yellow, outsmarted the zoo keepers, luring them rather into his trail but staying too far for their easy reach.
“We gave up chasing this ape after it got dark,” a zoo keeper, who pleaded not to be named disclosed.
“Yellow is too smart; he kept tricking us, jumping from place to place, until it ended up on a tall tree far beyond our easy reach.”
He said Yellow displayed jungle skills, jumping from tree to tree in a jungle-style swing that dragged over eight hours until the keepers deployed to lure him back got tired.
By today residents who were alerted by the development went out on a search, although it was not clear if they did so to help get the ape back into the zoo, or simply out of curiosity.
“Residents were able to spot it far off from where we left it the night before,” the zoo keeper said. “We joined them in the banters, and had to invite men of the Fire Service to assist.”
By 3pm when this report was still in the making, Yellow was still tricking both residents and zoo keepers, it was learnt further. Men of the Fire Service invited to the help had just pulled out of the chase.
Zoo keepers said Yellow’s swing into distance may compel the management of the zoo to invite in the police of soldiers to aim and shoot it dead in order to avert a possible brush of the ape with residents.
They said the facility does not have tranquilizers to demobilize the animal, for easy capture.
Called for official comments, the zoo manager, Mr. Dibal Musa, declined to speak, insisting that had to follow the protocol of writing the National Museum and Monuments for a directive to come from Abuja, for him to comment.
Jos is known to have experience with animals breaking loose from confinement and causing panic in the city. Recently a male lion broke out of a rusty cage at a state owned wildlife park, and caused panic, forcing the management to invite soldiers, who shot and killed it.
The killing sparked a worldwide outrage from animal rights activists who suggested that tranquilizers would have been used so that an endangered specie of animal was not killed.