A monkey once used in medical experiments has been caught and taken to a sanctuary after a daring bid for freedom at one of America’s biggest airports. Dawkins, a rhesus macaque, managed to escape from his transport crate at San Antonio International Airport and evaded capture for up to an hour on May 21, 2018.
The animal, said to be stressed and frightened, was being transported to the Born Free USA wildlife sanctuary in La Salle County, Texas, where conservationists want him to adjust to living outdoors.
He escaped after arriving on an American Airlines flight from Chicago, while the cargo was being offloaded, and wandered around the cargo bay.The airport’s wildlife biologist worked with vets and staff from the San Antonio Zoo to corner him in a baggage-handling area before giving him a tranquilliser dart, said Russ Handy, San Antonio’s aviation chief.
Dawkins was being rescued from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, which uses monkeys in laboratory tests.
Prashant Khetan, the chief executive of Born Free USA, said travelling can be a tense experience for animals.
“He’s stressed,” Mr Khetan said. “This is a rhesus macaque in a situation that’s not normal. It’s not uncommon, but a reminder for us that when animals are in captivity, they can be unpredictable.”
Born Free USA later said Dawkins was tired after his journey but was doing well.
The charity’s sanctuary aims to recreate the experience of being in the wild. Unless the primates are injured, keepers try to be as hands-off as possible, said Mr Khetan.
The sanctuary is the largest in the US, holding up to 550 primates.
Dawkins will initially be housed in one of the smaller enclosures while he adjusts but it will still be bigger than where he came from, say sanctuary bosses.