Since Sunday, July 26 there have been reports of the resident baboons of Knowsley Safari Park, Merseyside attacking vehicles with human tools. The reports suggested that since the park opened after the lockdown many vehicles were vandalised by the primates. The simians were seen with knives, screwdrivers and even a chainsaw. However, the monkeys are far from a "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" style take over. Park authorities believe that most of the stories are highly exaggerated.

Knowsley Park, which boasts a five-mile safari drive, allows visitors to get close with animals like African lions, European bison, white rhinos and baboons. Visitors are allowed to drive through the area in their own vehicles or book tickets on a safari bus. Many visitors opt for the safari bus to ensure the safety of their own vehicles.

While most of the other animals on the drive tend to ignore the passing cars, the baboons are notorious for damaging cars. The mischievous monkeys flock to the cars and are known to be curious about various car parts. Cars leaving the park without their side mirrors, windscreen wipers and even registration plates are quite common.

According to The Sunday Times, a park worker reported that the baboons had gotten their hands on dangerous human tools. The primates, armed with knives and screwdrivers, have the potential to cause more damage than usual. Park workers found the tools in the enclosure as well.

The worker speculated the source of the implements. They pointed out that the baboons could have stolen it from cars visiting the park since it re-opened on June 15. At the same time, it could be the work of malicious pranksters visiting the park.

According to Manchester Evening News, the park authorities have denied the stories of armed monkeys. A park spokesperson stated that the tales might be highly embellished versions of some items which have been found in the enclosure at times.

The destructive nature of the baboons at Knowsley was put to test by Hyundai in 2012 when the car manufacturer left a New Generation i30 model open for the monkeys to explore over 10 hours.

Reports claimed that the baboons at Knowsley safari park had been attacking cars with knives, screwdrivers and even a chainsaw. (representational image) Derek Keats