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Jefferson County: Both escaped chimpanzees safely tranquilized

Jefferson County: Both escaped chimpanzees safely tranquilized

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Jefferson County Sheriff's Department

A Jefferson County Sheriff's Department cruiser sits on Highway 21 in Hillsboro on Thursday, March 22, 2018. Photo by Nikos Frazier, nfrazier@post-dispatch.com

UPDATED at 4:30 p.m. Sunday with the capture of both chimpanzees.

JEFFERSON COUNTY — Two chimps that got loose from a facility south of Festus on Sunday have been safely caught, police confirmed. 

Authorities, including Jefferson County deputies and workers with Critter Lane Petting Zoo in Valles Mines, created a perimeter around the animals near the sanctuary they escaped in the 12300 block of Highway CC at about 12:45 p.m.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office spokesman Grant Bissell said the male chimp was tranquilized on a neighboring property at about 2:30 p.m. and the female chimp was secured at 3:45 p.m. Both chimps have been examined by a veterinarian following their tranquilization.

Authorities said an unsecured lock on the animal enclosure was to blame for the escape. During the escape, a woman at the facility received minor injuries. she refused medical treatment. No other injuries were reported.

This isn't the first time a chimpanzee has escaped this facility, Bissell said. One of these same chimps escaped just a few weeks ago. 

The chimps are owned by Tonia Haddix, who owns seven chimpanzees in total. She said the escape occurred when the cages were being cleaned. She said she and the chimpanzees' other caretakers are working on getting double doors installed so there's another mechanism in place to stop an escape.

"We have a lot of good protocols in place, but sometimes, and I don't care how fancy your facility is, mechanisms fail," Haddix said. "Even prisoners - just like the Georgia riots recently. They were able to take over the prisons. It happens."

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