Safari park sets record straight on chainsaw baboons ‘urban myth’

Staff at Knowsley Safari Park have slammed the Sunday Times and S*n newspapers for spreading "urban myths" about chainsaw wielding baboons.

The baboon enclosure is one of the Prescot park's best known attractions, and many motorists have lost windscreen wipers or radio aerials to the animals.

But media reports on Sunday suggested the apes had been spotted with knives, screwdrivers and even a chainsaw.

The Sunday Times broke the story, penned by northern correspondent David Southern, headlined: "Safari park baboons ‘armed with knives’".

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Now the attraction has claimed the article could damage attempts to get back on track after the coronavirus lockdown and slammed the Rupert Murdoch owned outlet, alongside its sister paper The S*n, which also picked up the story.

Rachel Scott, head of marketing, at Knowsley Safari Park told the ECHO: "We’ve heard many such tales being told over the years and of course if we’re provided with any genuine cause for concern, we take the appropriate steps.

"We’re just really saddened and surprised that these urban myths were reported by a broadsheet and then rehashed without any proper facts by its sister tabloid publication.”

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The Sunday Times story reported outlandish claims, attributed to anonymous park staff members, suggesting visitors had been deliberately arming the primates with knives and other implements.

The Times source said: “We’re not sure if they are being given weapons by some of the guests who want to see them attack cars, or if they’re fishing them out of pick-up trucks and vans.

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"They will literally go into people’s toolboxes and carry them around. One of the baboons was seen lugging around a chainsaw.”

Another anonymous source said: “The baboons have been found with knives and screwdrivers. I do wonder if it’s some of the guests handing them out.”

The Times ran a response from the park in the story suggesting that many claims were "exaggerated."

Knowsley re-opened on June 15 with social distancing measures in place.

Guests must book a ticket in advance, and visitor numbers have been limited to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.