Texas Biomedical Research Institute officials are making changes to their enclosure after four baboons briefly escaped from the facility on Saturday.
The animal care team determined the baboons rolled a 55-gallon barrel upright near a wall of their open-air enclosure, then climbed it, which allowed them to escape.
The enclosure was built nearly 40 years ago, according to a news release from the facility.
Three baboons were recovered within 30 minutes. Officials initially thought a fourth remained on the loose but after completing a head count of all the animals determined it had returned to the enclosure almost immediately.
The barrel was put in the enclosure because the animal team deemed it an enrichment tool that helped baboons mimic foraging behavior, according to the release. After the escape, the staff removed the barrel and will determine if any modifications can be made.
“This was truly a unique incident,” said Lisa Cruz, Assistant Vice President for Communications. “We have been caring for research baboons for more than 50 years. We have nearly 1100 baboons on the property that date back eight generations.”
The research institute houses more than 2,500 animals. Scientists conduct research on the animals to help develop new vaccines and medicines.
SNPRC has more than 2,500 animals on the Texas Biomed campus. They are used to study diseases, drug therapies and vaccines.
“We have been caring for research baboons for more than 50 years. We have nearly 1,100 baboons on the property that date back eight generations. Baboons, as with all our animals, are critical to biomedical research. Baboons, in particular, have played an important role in the discovery of life-saving drugs, therapies and vaccines and have led to greater understanding of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and so much more that impact the lives of millions of people,” said Lisa Cruz, assistant vice president for communications.
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