Lab baboons break out of Texas medical research centre

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Jannelle Bouton saw one of the four baboons who broke through a fencing barrier at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, leading to an all out search mission.

Two of the baboons were captured near the tree line along the fence, authorities told KSAT, and one was seen running along nearby Military Drive, being chased down by the animal capture team. "I mean, they're really key to those advances in biomedical research".

They were out and about for twenty to thirty minutes before an animal capture team caught up with them. Said John Bernal, DVM, attending veterinarian at SNPRC.

The baboons are housed in an open-air corral surrounded by walls folded inward "to preclude the animals from jumping out", according to the institute.

Finally, the baboons were quarantined and returned back to the lab.

Some residents were concerned that the animals were carrying infectious diseases when they escaped, but the animals were not part of an active study, KSAT said.

The study institute is now home to more than 2,500 creatures.

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Video footage showed the animals gallivanting down roads a few miles from the research center before a highly trained team was able to re-capture them, officials said. One of the animals returned to the enclosure on his own nearly immediately.

"Baboons, as with all our animals, are critical to biomedical research", insisted center spokeswoman Lisa Cruz.

The plastic barrels were being used as an "enrichment tool" to help mimic foraging behaviors.

None of the baboons were hurt during the escape, according to the station. They figured out that if they rolled the barrels to an upright position near the fence and climbed on top of them, they could get out.

The baboon's home is part of the Southwest National Primate Research Centre and it has been in use for 35 years. The animal care team has removed the 55-gallon barrels from the enclosure "for further assessment and modification".

However, the barrels have now been removed to stop any more daring escapes. "We have almost 1,100 baboons on the property that date back eight generations". "Baboons, in particular, have played an important role in the discovery of life-saving drugs, therapies and vaccines and have led to greater understanding of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and so much more that impact the lives of millions of people".

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