Captured: Escaped animal at Roger Williams Park Zoo returned to enclosure

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Two staff members were hurt Tuesday morning when an animal escaped his enclosure at Roger Williams Park Zoo.

During a news conference late Tuesday morning, zoo spokeswoman Diane Nahabedian said zookeepers had gone into the takin’s enclosure shortly after 9 a.m. for routine hoof procedure when he charged at the heavy, reinforced doors several times, eventually getting out onto zoo grounds.

“This one got aggressive and decided to leave,” Nahabedian said.

She said the zoo’s recapture team was immediately deployed and the takin – whose name is Har-Lee – was tranquilized around 9:55 a.m. and brought back to his enclosure on a truck.

The zoo opened for the day 15 minutes late at 10:15 a.m.

Nahabedian said an animal keeper and a veterinary intern were hurt during the incident but their injuries are not life-threatening.

“Both of them are pretty bruised, from what I understand, and they are OK. Aches and pains, but they’re OK,” Nahabedian said.

As for Har-Lee, “he’ll be off exhibit for a while,” Nahabedian said.

The takin – which is described as a goat-antelope – can usually be found at the “Marco Polo’s Adventure Trek,” according to the zoo’s website.

A takin can be five to seven and a half feet tall and weigh up to 880 pounds. They are native to the Himalayan Mountains and western China and are currently considered a vulnerable species. 

Nahabedian said if the escape happened during normal zoo hours, visitors would have been “safely sent to enclosures” while the recapture team went to work.

She did say if the staff was not in the enclosure Har-Lee would not have been able to escape.

Nahabedian said it’s been many, many years since an animal has gotten out of its enclosure.

While she does not believe staff members are at fault for the escape, she said the zoo will be conducting an internal review to see if any changes need to be made.

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