TODAY   |  April 11, 2014

Chimps escape at Kansas City Zoo

A chimp used a log as a ladder to scale a zoo wall, leading his buddies on an impromptu excursion. They were lured to safety by zookeepers with malted milk balls. NBC’s Garrett Haake reports.

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>> love this next story. this is a wild one out of kansas city . clever chimpanzees at the zoo there making a bold bid for freedom. garrett hake from our affiliate there khsb joins us with more. good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, matt. it was a group of chimpanzees who decided to do a little bit of exploring yesterday afternoon and sent staff at this zoo on a chimp hunt to bring them back. the zoo did go into something called a code red lockdown for a while, but staff here insist there was never any danger for the visitors. a group of chimpanzees made a break for it thursday afternoon at the kansas city zoo . around 4:00 p.m ., one of the chimps broke off a six-foot tree limb inside his enclosure and used it as a ladder to scale the wall.

>> we're like, uh, are they supposed to do that?

>> reporter: the ringleader then convinced six other chimps to join him, but only two came along for the great escape.

>> chimps are so smart. they live in this big social group . so hey, i found a way out, why doesn't even come and join me?

>> reporter: officials say the chimps did not escape into a public area and no one was ever in harm's way.

>> i felt safe the whole time. we were pretty far away from anything that was happening.

>> reporter: as a precaution, employees herded families into secure areas like bathrooms and even other animal exhibits.

>> they put us in the penguin exhibit. and we had about 40 people in there.

>> reporter: after an hour and a half, all chimps were returned to their homes, lured to safety with fresh veggies and malted milk balls. those trouble-making primates will get the day off today while zoo keepers scour their enclosure for anything else that might be used as a ladder. that exhibit will be back open again this weekend.

>> garrett, thank you very much. no, you figure out the log ladder thing, you don't fall for the malted milk balls.

>> i would fall for the malted milk balls.

>> that chimp is actually responsible for the heartbleed bug. amazing.