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Tayto Park visitors hid in gift shop after three bison broke out of enclosure

Bison are the largest land-dwelling mammals in their native North America, growing up to two metres tall and weighing up to a tonne.

A bison at a UK wildlife trust. Photo: Stock image© PA

Tayto Park

Darragh Mc DonaghFast News

Visitors to Tayto Park were forced to shelter in a gift shop after three bison broke out of their enclosure and were spotted beside one of the theme park rides in an incident that occurred in March.

The alarm was raised by the retail manager after a customer reported seeing bison next to an amusement ride at the park in Meath, and the zookeeping team initiated the escaped animal procedure immediately.

“All visitors were removed from that area and brought into the retail shop, which was the nearest secure building to the animals,” a staff member wrote in an email to the government department responsible for zoo licensing.

Customers were confined to the gift shop until the bison herd manager arrived and returned the animals to their paddock with the assistance of zookeepers. The section of fence that the bison had broken through was later repaired.

Tayto Park

“The incident was resolved quickly and efficiently by staff following the emergency drills we have in place,” the staff member reported in the email to an official in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Bison are the largest land-dwelling mammals in their native North America, growing up to two metres tall and weighing up to a tonne. They are known to be aggressive and territorial, and can run at speeds of up to 30mph.

Three people have been attacked by bison in Yellowstone National Park since May, prompting park rangers to advise visitors to stay at least 75 feet away from the animals at all times.

The incident at Tayto Park, which took place on March 27, is not the first time an animal has escaped from its enclosure at the zoo.

A white stork took advantage of hot weather in June 2021 to flee using thermals – rising columns of warm air – by flying high over and away from the zoo. The huge bird, which has a wingspan of around two metres, was recaptured seven hours later.

A spokesperson for Tayto Park confirmed that one female bison and two juveniles escaped from their paddock in March, but said the animals had only entered an area that was fenced off from the public and no evacuation was necessary.

Within two minutes of being notified, “there were multiple members of the zookeeping staff implementing our Animal Escape Plan and herding the bison back to its paddock.”

Guests were allowed to leave the confines of the retail shop within 10 minutes of the event first being notified, according to the spokesperson.

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