Four baboons escape research facility in Texas

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A set of baboons that escaped a Texas study facility increased it churns up a barrel nearby a wall socket and subsequently fled their own retractable enclosure, authorities said Monday. The fourth baboon, who was considering the getaway, eventually decided against it and returned to its pen.

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.

Animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) strongly criticized the company, saying it has had multiple incidents of animal escapes and accidental deaths in recent years.

The study institute is now home to more than 2,500 creatures.

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

The baboons are housed in an open air enclosure that is surrounded by perimeter walls that fold inward to preclude the animals from jumping out. They figured out that if they rolled the barrels to an upright position near the fence and climbed on top of them, they could get out. The enclosure had been outfitted with 55-gallon barrels, which were meant to be used as an "enrichment tool" to help the animals mimic foraging behaviors, the laboratory said in a statement. "And we will not replace them with anything that could be used in the future", said Researcher John C. Bernal, D.V.M.

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In the statement, the institute said that after the baboons escaped, the immediate concern was for the safety of the animals, the center's personnel and residents in the surrounding area.

Lisa Cruz, assistant vice president for communications at the Southwest National Primate Research Centre, that is part of the institute, said: 'We have almost 1,100 baboons on the property that date back eight generations. But the barrels, which were to help the baboons mimic foraging behavior, will be removed to prevent future escapes.

'Baboons, as with all our animals, are critical to biomedical research'.

"This was truly a unique incident", Lisa Cruz, assistant vice-president for communications, reportedly said. "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".

They took a 55-gallon barrel - placed in the corral as an "enrichment tool" - and propped it up near the perimeter wall, the institute said.