Colchester: Red-ruffed lemur contained by police after escaping from Colchester Zoo

Lemur at Colchester Zoo

Lemur at Colchester Zoo - Credit: Archant

A lemur was spotted hopping about the street in Colchester on Sunday evening.

The red-ruffed species, native to Madagascar, had escaped from Colchester Zoo and was spotted on the loose in Maldon Road, Stanway.

Two officers from Essex Police were called to the scene amid reports of a “monkey” at the side of the road. Police closed a section of the road while they contained the lemur and waited for zookeepers to come and pick it up again.

Staff from Colchester Zoo arrived about 20 minutes later and collected the animal.

Yesterday the zoo refused to comment on how the animal had broken free. Last November, five timber wolves escaped from Colchester Zoo through a damaged fence, three of which had to be shot dead.

When the red-ruffed lemur was found it was reported to be in the front garden of a house about half a mile from the zoo.


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Police offered bananas to the wayward animal in order to lure towards them.

One onlooker was reported as saying, “The lemur was just hopping round the front garden, oblivious to all the interest and police activity.

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“He certainly did not seem to be stressed and was enjoying his big adventure.

“He had been walking along the pavement next to the road and we joked that he looked like he was going to catch a bus into town.

“The keeper was certainly delighted when she had him safely in her arms - I think the banana must have done the trick.”

A spokesman for Essex Police added: “We were contacted by a motorist shortly before 8.30pm who reported that a monkey was on Maldon Road outside the zoo.

“Officers attended the scene and contained the lemur before zoo staff arrived and collected the animal 20 minutes later.

“A section of the road was closed during this time to keep the lemur safe.”

Red-ruffed lemurs are native to the rainforests on the island of Madagascar off the east coast of Africa. They live in small groups and are well-known for their distinctive raucous call.

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