SOUTHEND Sealife Adventure has released CCTV footage showing what appears to be a man on the roof of the centre's meerkat enclosure... moments before they escaped.

A man allegedly broke in around 7pm last night and was seen on the roof of the enclosure.

Luckily, the animals were safely recovered soon after their escape where they were seen running along together on Southend Seafront.

Southend Standard: Meerkats running along seafrontMeerkats running along seafront

A spokesman from Sealife Adventure, said: "We would like to say a massive thank you to the members of the Sealife Adventure team, police officers, PCSO and members of the public who made sure that our meerkats returned safe and sound to their home after a mindless criminal put them at risk.

"An idiot decided to break in to Sealife Adventure Wild, and proceeded to wreck the purpose built meerkat enclosure, allowing the meerkats to escape onto the Seafront putting both our meerkats and the public at risk.

"The act of a strange person damaging their home would have caused distress and fear – and encouraged the meerkats to leave a place where they have always been safe."

A spokesman for Essex Police, said: "We are investigating reports a meerkat enclosure was damaged at Sea Life Adventure in Eastern Esplanade, Southend, at about 7.45pm on Friday, July 12.

"A number of meerkats escaped as a result but were safely rounded up.

"Witnesses who saw anyone acting suspiciously in the area at the time are asked to call the Southend community policing team on 101 quoting reference 42/110687/19."