Northern Ireland

Appeal follows Belfast zoo escape of white-nosed coati

White nosed coati

The public in north Belfast have been asked to keep an eye out for a hairy Central American on the loose in the area.

A white-nosed coati from Belize escaped from Belfast Zoo on Monday and is still missing.

The mammal, a member of the racoon family, was being held in quarantine after just arriving at the zoo.

It had been hoped the female would take part in a breeding programme with several other coatis recently imported.

A spokesperson for the zoo said: "While healthy on arrival, all animals entering Belfast Zoo are kept in quarantine as a precautionary measure before being allowed to enter the general zoo population.

"The coati escaped from quarantine on Monday but it is not expected to stray very far.

"Coatis are generally timid, however, if anyone sees the coati they are advised to contact the zoo immediately and not attempt to approach or catch the animal."

It is understood no sightings have so far been reported.

The coati is about the same size and shape as a raccoon and is omnivorous - eating leaves, fruit, small rodents, birds and eggs.

Like the raccoon, they can also adapt to humans, raiding bins and campsites.

They are mostly diurnal - sleeping at night and active during the day.

While the males are solitary, the females usually form social groups - she may be missing her pals already.

Anyone who sees the furry absconder should contact the zoo on 02890 776277.

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