Bison break out of theme park enclosure and leave customers cowering in shop

Theme park visitors were left horrified as they were bundled into a gift shop to seek shelter from rampaging bison that broke a fence and headed for the site's rides.

The alarm was raised by the retail manager in the shop after a customer reported seeing bison next to an amusement ride at Tayto Park, a hugely popular domestic tourism destination in Meath, Ireland.

The zookeeping team initiated the escaped animal procedure immediately after the alarm was raised.

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“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 shop until the bison herd manager arrived and returned the animals to their paddock with the help of zookeepers, the site insists the drama was over in about 10 minutes.

The section of fence that the bison had broken through was later repaired.

“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 50kph.

Three people have been attacked by bison in Yellowstone National Park since May, prompting park rangers to advise visitors to stay 25 metres away from the animals at all times.

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The incident 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 been (sic) notified, there were multiple members of the zookeeping staff implementing our Animal Escape Plan and herding the bison back to its paddock,” they added.

“Guests were allowed to leave the confines of the retail shop within 10 minutes of the event first been (sic) notified.”

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