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Last Updated: Monday July 06 2009 12:43 GMT

Chimps' zoo escape investigated

A chimpanzee sucking on an ice lolly at Chester Zoo

An investigation is under way after 30 chimps escaped from their enclosure at Chester Zoo and headed to the keeper area where their food is prepared.

More than 5,000 visitors were asked to leave the zoo on Sunday afternoon as keepers tried to round up the chimps.

It's not known how the chimps escaped, but the zoo said they didn't get into any public areas and no-one was hurt.

It seems the cheeky chimpanzees were more concerned with tucking into the tasty treats they found in the kitchen.

Zoo director Gordon McGregor-Reid said: "Somehow or other they got into the kitchen - it must have been the smell of the bananas or something like that.

"It was a bit like an old-fashioned chimps tea party... they've certainly had a ball in that room that's for sure."

Mr McGregor-Reid said visitors who'd had to leave on Sunday had been offered refunds and he apologised again for the inconvenience.

"The chances of anything really serious happening are vanishingly small but we've got an emergency procedure in the zoo and we follow it," he said. "Public safety comes first."