An investigation is under way into how a spider monkey managed to escape from Blackpool Zoo.
Bosses confirmed the animal made a bid for freedom on Sunday before being found in a tree close to the zoo boundary.
You wouldn’t expect a monkey to be able to escape from the zoo
Passers-by saw staff with nets trying, at first unsuccessfully, to entice the monkey down at around 4pm.
Grahame Stacey, 45, who lives nearby, was out walking along the public footpath close to the Village Urban Resort hotel when he saw the recovery mission unfolding.
He said: “It was on the public highway –the zookeepers were trying to coax it down from the tree. The animal was obviously in distress from the sounds it was making.”
He said staff also tried to usher him away as he stopped to film their efforts to rescue the monkey.
He added: “If an animal can escape, that does ask questions as to what the security is.
“You wouldn’t expect a monkey to be able to escape from the zoo.
“You’ve got to think of the public aspect – I don’t know whether it would attack other animals or children.”
Blackpool Zoo said the monkey was only briefly at large and never posed a risk to the public.
Mr Stacey, who regularly walks along the path, said he was alarmed to see a monkey outside the confines of the zoo.
He said: “We have seen the odd bird and the like but nothing like that before.”
A Blackpool Zoo spokesman said: “Blackpool Zoo can confirm that a spider monkey escaped from its enclosure on Sunday.
“It was reported to keepers by a member of staff and was quickly located, rescued and returned to the group.
“It was isolated in a tree on the border of the zoo’s premises and there was no danger to the public at any time.
“An investigation has been launched.”
Zoo bosses previously launched an inquiry into their security arrangements after five rare monkeys were stolen in May last year.
On that occasion, organised criminals cut a hole in the fence and helped themselves to three critically endangered cotton-top tamarin monkeys – two adult females and a four-month-old baby – as well as two addition male emperor tamarins.
Four of the monkeys were later found and returned to the zoo following a high-profile police investigation but the baby was never located.
One of the stolen cotton-top tamarins gave birth to twins last summer.
Factfile: Get to know the spider monkey
Spider monkeys get their name from their disproportionately long limbs.
There are seven species of spider monkey, all of which are classed as “threatened”.
Two of them, the black-headed spider monkey, and the brown spider monkey, are critically endangered.
The creatures, which are classed as New World monkeys, are very social and typically form groups of around 15 to 25.
However, there can sometimes be as many as 40 spider monkeys in the group, which is typically led by a female who decides how many of them there should be.
Spider monkeys tend to sleep high up in trees and will bark to scare away predators.
If threatened they will usually retreat into their groups and run, rather than fight back.
Spider monkeys will live for 27 years on average.
The oldest spider monkey on record was 33.