Lab baboons break out of Texas medical research centre

Three of the animals were recaptured within 30 minutes of escaping and the fourth returned to its enclosure by itself

Four baboons escaped a research facility in Texas over the weekend by using a barrel against the wall of their enclosure. This incident occurred just before our nation highlights the critical role animal caretakers play in the advancement of treatments and cures for humans on Biomedical Research Awareness Day April 19.

From 2010 to present, the USDA has required the Texas Biomedical Research Institute to make changes to various aspects of the facility's infrastructure and care for the animals.

Authorities at the facility, which houses nearly 1,100 of the animals, became aware of the escape attempt on Saturday afternoon, later deducing that a team of the baboons had rolled one of the enclosure's barrels up against the side of their perimeter walls, using it to make their getaway.

After a 20-minute pursuit, TBRI's animal recovery team managed to round up the three baboons at large, with the facility confirming that all animals were accounted for and were unharmed during the "unique incident".

"The animals themselves were not diseased", Bernal said.

The animal capture team, per protocol, was wearing personal protective equipment for the safety of the animals, as they are susceptible to human illnesses.

Experimenters claim that the baboons rolled a 55-gallon drum, placed it in an upright position, and used it to climb out of an open-air enclosure.

Texas Biomed puts everyone at risk-its staff, the public, and the 2,900 nonhuman primates it holds captive-by imprisoning animals whose one desire is to get away from the nightmare of the laboratory. They aid our scientists in the search for new diagnostics, drug therapies and vaccines. The fourth baboon, who was considering the getaway, eventually decided against it and returned to its pen.

To these baboons, however, the barrels were something much better than "enrichment" tools. Upon noticing the animals on top of the enclosure, our animal care team immediately removed the barrels from the enclosure and alerted the animal capture team.

"Our team was ensuring the baboon was not hurt by traffic on Military Drive", Bernal expressed.

The enclosure is surrounded by walls that fold inward to prevent the monkeys from jumping out. These animals were not infected, as they were not on an active study nor used in infectious disease research.

Lisa Cruz, Assistant Vice President for Communications said the facility has been working with and caring for baboons for the last 50 years and the facility has baboons for some eight generations now.

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