Tayto Park visitors were forced to take shelter in a gift shop after three bison escaped from their enclosure during an incident that occurred in March.
A retail manager at the theme park in Co Meath raised the alarm after a customer reported seeing the bison next to an amusement ride, prompting the park's zookeeping team to immediately initiate the escaped animal procedure, the Irish Times reports.
Three bison had escaped, one adult and two juveniles, an official told the Irish Times, noting that the animals had only entered an area that was fenced off from the public and no evacuation was necessary.
Customers remained in the gift shop until the bison herd manager returned the animals to their paddocks with the assistance of zookeepers at the park.
"All visitors were removed from that area and brought into the retail shop, which was the nearest secure building to the animals," a Tayto Park zoo staff member wrote in an email to the Irish Government department responsible for zoo licensing.
The staff member said that the incident was resolved "quickly and efficiently".
An official from Tayto Park has since told the Irish Times: “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.
"Guests were allowed to leave the confines of the retail shop within 10 minutes of the event first been (sic) notified."
The fence that bison broke through to escape was later repaired.
The alarm was raised by the retail manager after a customer reported seeing bison next to an amusement ride at the park in Meath, and the zookeeping team initiated the escaped animal procedure immediately.https://t.co/wcv9FoulCo— The Irish Times (@IrishTimes) August 4, 2022
Bison, the national mammal of the United States, are the largest mammal in North America. Despite weighing up to 2,000 pounds, they are described as "extremely agile." Experts recommend that bison be "loved from a distance" as they are "unpredictable and can charge at any moment."
The bison incident at Tayto Park on March 27 this year was not the first time that an animal has escaped from their enclosure at Tayto Park, according to the Irish Times.
In June 2021, a white stork flew away from the zoo by taking advantage of thermals - rising columns of warm air. The giant bird was captured seven hours after the escape.
Tayto Park, named for the iconic Irish crisp Tayto, first opened in November 2010 and features both an amusement park and a zoo. It is home to Cú Chulainn, Europe’s largest wooden roller coaster with an inversion, and Ireland’s only water flume ride, The Viking Voyage.
Earlier this year, Tayto Snacks announced it would be ending its title sponsorship of the Irish theme park at the end of 2022.