Baboons at a popular safari park have been spotted with knives, screwdrivers and even a chainsaw, according to reports.
The primates at Knowsley Safari Park in Merseyside are already known for their destructive abilities and have been pictured previously pulling things from visitors’ cars.
But now, some staff are concerned that the baboons are being given weapons “for a laugh” by park-goers, according to the Sunday Times.
One worker told the newspaper: “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.”
The worker said the animals sometimes go into people’s toolboxes to grab what they can, adding: “One of the baboons was seen lugging around a chainsaw.”
Another said some had been found with knives and screwdrivers and also questioned whether the baboons were being armed by visitors on purpose.
The baboons are already known for causing damage to people’s vehicles, with one mechanic telling the Sunday Times that they had repaired cars left damaged by the primates.
But the safari park said suggestions that the baboons were being armed with weapons was likely to be an urban myth, saying some tales had “grown in exaggeration” as they had been shared to make objects found in the animals’ enclosure “seem more exciting and unbelievable”.
Knowsley, which is home to animals including lions, tigers and rhinos, reopened on June 15.
Its website includes reassurance that measures to make it COVID-Secure are in place, including reminding guests: “If you take a drive through our Baboon Jungle, we’re unable to return any car parts that our cheeky baboons may take” whilst pointing out that a “car friendly route” is available.