Honolulu Zoo chimpanzee exhibit to be modified after escape

City anticipates the exhibit to reopened in a month

The Honolulu Zoo’s investigation on how a 15-year-old chimpanzee escaped his enclosure found that it was “due to damage sustained to the chimpanzee exhibit wall.”

Officials say a chip, about the size of a quarter, was big enough for Puiwa to climb up the wall.

At about 4:00 p.m. on June 25, 2014, Puiwa climbed the retaining wall of the chimpanzee exhibit and was just on the edge of an area where visitors were walking.

City officials say a visitor spotted the chimpanzee and alerted zoo staff.

The zoo was evacuated and the chimpanzee was subdued using a tranquilizer dart without incident or injury by 5 p.m.

Zoo officials say Puiwa appears to be recovering well and all eight of the zoo’s chimpanzees have been living in their sleeping quarters while repairs are made.

“Keepers will continue to monitor our eight chimps closely in their off-exhibit holding,” said the zoo’s director, Jeff Wilkinson. “The chimps have a day pen that is large enough for the eight chimps to socialize, exercise and play. A variety of items are available to entertain them until the exhibit is re-opened in late July.”

Work to the exhibit is expected to take approximately four weeks to complete and will cost between $50,000-$100,000. Plans include replacing the current cement wall with a more weather-proof material.

“We’ve contracted Pacific Aquascapes to come in and repair what we believe is the reason he was able to escape, but we want to… err on the side of safety, so we’re also going to include an overhang along the perimeter of the exhibit,” Wilkinson said.

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