One of the strangest episodes in Liverpool's documented history must be that of Mickey the chimp.

Mickey was a 14-year-old chimpanzee and the star attraction at Liverpool Zoological Park in Mossley Hill.

The zoo ran for only six years between 1932 and 1938 and was where Rosemont Road housing estate now resides off where Woodlands Road and Elmswood Road meet.

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According to the zoo's promotional posters, it was home to thousands of animals including lions, alligators, elephants, kangaroos, bears and over 600 monkeys.

But the star attraction of the park was Mickey, who was billed as 'the world's cleverest chimp'.

Mickey was also reported to enjoy lighting and smoking his cigarettes and was, in fact, 15 stone of rippling muscle with a penchant for breaking out of his cage.

It's said that Mickey escaped four times from the zoo before a final break out followed by a school rampage 1938 ensured it would be his last.

Mickey had also managed to escape from his compound a year earlier which was reported as much more light-hearted affair.

The day after his escape, on page five of the Liverpool Echo dated Thursday, May 6 1937, the story was we headlined "Chimp's adventure".

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Mickey, described as "bigger than a man and all muscle" is reported to have enjoyed "three hours of crowded and glorious life" on the run.

During his escapade, the chimp is said to have knocked over a lion tamer, bit a circus master, jumped an eight foot wall, and climbed a tree to watch children coming home from school.

A coal cart driver who challenged Mickey with a shovel is then said to have come off badly when he was thrown across the road by the ape who then "kissed a woman who greeted him by name, and accompanied her down the road with his arm around her".

Eventually, he is said to have "succumbed to the temptations of an orange" held out to him and he was led away back to his compound.

The following year, Mickey went AWOL again but this time it resulted in a tragic end.

In the Liverpool Echo on March 24, 1938, it recounted the dramatic events that led up to Mickey's death earlier that day.

Mickey was discovered to be on the loose after Mr J Wardle, the zoo's manager, found the chimp had broken an iron bar to his cage and made good his escape.

Out of his cage, Mickey is said to have broken into the zoo manager's house, breaking through the door which "smashed like matchwood".

In the house, he pushed over the zoo manager's wife before fleeing, but not before several zoo staff had armed themselves with revolvers and rifles.

A shot was fired before Mickey left the zoo compound leaving him wounded, but he carried on and headed to Sudley Road School.

Mickey the chimp was the star attraction at Liverpool Zoological Park based in Mossley Hill in the 1930s.
Mickey the chimp was shot after going on the rampage at a school on Lugard Road in Mossley Hill

A large group of children are said to have been in the playground as the wounded chimp arrived.

A young teacher by the name of Mr A Gall is said to have heard a yell from a group of boys as Mickey ran towards them.

The teacher tried to usher the children inside but Mickey had already grabbed one of the boys by his ankle.

Photo of Mickey lighting up a cigarette with his keeper.
Photo of Mickey lighting up a cigarette with his keeper.

Bravely Mr Gill ran towards Mickey to save the boy, and recounts what happened next.

The teacher said: "I know very little of what followed. I must have been just picked up and thrown about, to judge from the scratches on my shoes and my torn clothes.

"I lost consciousness, and when I came to a little later I was lying on the asphalt and heard someone shouting to me to run indoors. The chimpanzee was still only a few yards away from me.

"I picked myself up and made for the gate, slamming it behind me. I had a vague vision of the chimpanzee jumping over it after me, but I got indoors safely and here I am."

Photo of Mickey smoking a pipe appeared in the Liverpool Echo Thursday 24 March 1938.
Photo of Mickey smoking a pipe appeared in the Liverpool Echo Thursday 24 March 1938.

The teacher would later receive an award for his bravery that day when it was acknowledged he likely saved the lives of several children.

Mickey had now made his way to Lugard Road next to the school and climbed on a roof.

Police officers from Aigburth, Allerton and Garston are said to have been at the scene as well as keepers.

Following the rampage where six people are said to have been hurt including three children, the decision was made to shoot Mickey.

The ECHO reports 13 shots were fired at Mickey who was standing on the rooftop, before he fell into the back yard of 29 Lugard Road, whose tenant was a Mrs Todd.

One of the zoo's neighbours, a Mr Rogers, said people living near the zoo were frightened of Mickey following his escape the year earlier.

Photo of Mickey stuffed and put on display following his death.
Photo of Mickey stuffed and put on display following his death.

He told the ECHO: "I am only thankful that he was killed before he killed someone else. He was not naturally ferocious, but was easily excited by crowds."

Several months later, Mickey was stuffed and put back on display at the zoo. There also accounts that following the zoo's closure, the stuffed chimp was put on display at Lewis's department store until it was bombed in the 1941 blitz, then later at Sudley House museum during the 1950s and 60s.

T he ECHO has launched a new 56-page nostalgia supplement in print. It's packed with photos from the recent past and the not-so-recent, from shopping, fashion and music to the Albert Dock – plus an elephant on parade in Woolton. You can order a copy here.