A MOTHER chimpanzee and her young male offspring drowned in a lake enclosure at Dublin Zoo's new chimp island exhibit.
The 17-year-old chimp, Annie died while attempting to rescue her three-year-old offspring Angus.
The tragedy occurred when another young male chimp became separated from the colony and had called upon Annie to rescue him. She tried to reach him by climbing over an electric fence, designed to keep apes away from water but could not negotiate it.
Annie then attempted to crawl under the fence, with Angus on her back, but he received an electric shock and, in terror, jumped into the lake. His mother followed him but the two chimps drowned before they could be rescued.
The mother and son were on loan from Belfast Zoo, having arrived just days before the accident, which happened two weeks ago. Both were therefore unfamiliar with their new surroundings.
Dublin Zoo staff were said to be extremely distressed and shocked at the deaths but were powerless to intervene.
The chimps were being monitored all day because it was their first day at the new enclosure.
Management had planned to build a new chimp colony using new stock from Belfast, breeding them with two chimps bred in Dublin.
They are now reviewing safety measures on the new island and the chimps are being kept indoors until a full inspection has been carried out.