Update on baboon who escaped in Sydney

The NSW health minister has given an update on one of the baboons that caused chaos after escaping near a Sydney hospital last year.

A baboon who broke free from a truck last year and caused havoc in central Sydney is alive and well, the NSW Health Minister has revealed.

The then-15 year old male baboon escaped near the Royal Prince Alfred hospital in the inner west in February 2020.

He made his getaway alongside his two female companions, who were there to keep him calm because he was transported in order to have a vasectomy.

The trio was being kept at a western Sydney baboon colony and were purpose-bred for medical research.

At a budget estimates hearing in the NSW parliament earlier this month, Health Minister Brad Hazzard was asked about funding for the primate research facility by Emma Hurst, an upper house MP representing the Animal Justice Party.

“Minister, last year I obtained documents from your office regarding the funding of the Australian national baboon colony, the primate research facility in NSW,” Ms Hurst said.

“Those documents revealed that it was going to cost about $650,000 a year to continue to fund the primate breeding facility after it lost its funding that used to be coming from the National Health and Medical Research Council. Can you confirm whether any alternative funding has been obtained for the facility since the financial year 2019?”

Brad Hazzard asked to take that question on notice, which means he will look up the answer and reply at a later date.

But he also took the opportunity to give an update on the male baboon.

“I can assure you that the last report I had was the baboon who escaped with his …” he started, before being interrupted by Ms Hurst who said the baboon’s name was Alfred.

“Well, he had various names. I think all people gave him a name. He is very happy and doing well,” Mr Hazzard said.

Mr Hazzard said he didn’t know whether or not the baboon was still being used for medical experiments.

But he added: “He has all his friends — his female friends who accompany him and others — and last I heard he is doing very well.”

The brazen escape became a social media sensation and many Sydneysiders eagerly followed the operation to catch the baboons, a task that involved police officers and Taronga Zoo staffers.

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