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Workers hurt as 800-pound animal busts out of enclosure in Rhode Island zoo

Har-Lee the takin escaped from its enclosure at Roger Williams Park Zoo on Tuesday morning.
Har-Lee the takin escaped from its enclosure at Roger Williams Park Zoo on Tuesday morning.Roger Williams Park Zoo

A large animal that escaped from an enclosure and injured two employees at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence was captured Tuesday, according to zoo officials.

The 800-pound takin, named Har-Lee, busted out of its enclosure during a routine veterinary procedure before the zoo opened, Diane S. Nahabedian, a spokeswoman for the zoo, said during a press conference.

“The animal charged the heavy, reinforced doors multiple times, finally breaking through and leading him out of his enclosure and onto zoo grounds,” Nahabedian said.

Two zoo employees, one animal keeper, and one veterinary intern, suffered minor injuries, Nahabedian said. They were treated for bruising but were not taken to the hospital.


As the takin did a full loop around the zoo, a recapture team with tranquilizers, and rifles for backup, chased the animal until he was sedated, Nahabedian said. Police and other emergency responders were also notified of the incident. The takin was transported back to the enclosure in a large truck by 9:55 a.m., just 20 minutes before the zoo opened.

No members of the public were at the zoo at the time of escape, and “the animal was in view of the recapture team at all times,” Nahabedian said.

“It’s a big animal, and this one got aggressive and decided to leave,” Nahabedian said. “If you approached it in the wild, it would be aggressive.”

The animal is native to the Himalayan Mountains and western China and can weigh up to 880 pounds, Nahabedian said.

Har-Lee is a male takin and has been at Roger Williams Park Zoo for seven years, Nahabedian said.

Nahabedian said veterinary procedures are purposefully performed before the zoo opens so that visitors are not present. But, she added, all zoo employees are trained to respond should an animal escape its enclosure.

“He was having a routine procedure, so at this point, I don’t know what set him off,” Nahabedian said.


The takin will be taken off-view temporarily, Nahabedian said. Zoo staff will decide when to bring him back out. Although the zoo has no reason to believe that employees did anything wrong at this time, she said, an internal review of the incident and procedure leading up to it will be conducted.

Laney Ruckstuhl can be reached at laney.ruckstuhl@globe.com. Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com.