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Originally published Friday, February 20, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Monkey escapes; Woodland Park Zoo evacuated

The Woodland Park Zoo was evacuated and locked down for about 45 minutes Thursday morning after a small monkey escaped from an enclosure...

The Woodland Park Zoo was evacuated and locked down for about 45 minutes Thursday morning after a small monkey escaped from an enclosure and ran off, zoo officials said. By 11:25 a.m., zookeepers had found the 12-year-old male DeBrazza's monkey named Ritkus and hit it with a tranquilizer dart, said zoo spokesman David Schaefer. No one was injured and there was no indication anyone was in any danger, he said.

The animal got loose sometime around 11 a.m., while the zoo was open to visitors, Schaefer said. Zookeepers had been introducing the monkey to an exhibit called Monkey Island, which is surrounded by a moat. Mammal curator Martin Ramirez said the monkey swam across the moat and climbed up a rock wall, apparently exploring its new home. Other similar monkeys have escaped from the open-air exhibit before, he said, and officials plan to re-evaluate its containment features.

The zoo was evacuated mostly as a precaution, "because it's a wild animal," Schaefer said. Visitors were alerted by a public-address system to leave.

DeBrazza's monkeys are native to Africa.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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