Bears killed and ate a monkey in a Dutch zoo in front of horrified visitors, witnesses and the zoo said Monday.

In the incident Sunday at the Beekse Bergen Safari Park, several Sloth bears chased the Barbary macaque into an electric fence, where it was stunned. It recovered and fled onto a wooden structure, where one bear pursued and mauled it to death.

The park confirmed the killing in a statement, saying: "In an area where Sloth bears, great apes and Barbary macaques have coexisted peacefully for a long time, the harmony was temporarily disturbed during opening hours on Sunday.

"Of course the habitats here in the safari park are arranged in such a way that one animal almost never kills another, but they are and remain wild animals," it said.

Witness Marco Berelds posted a detailed report on the incident, including photos, on a Dutch Web site. He said one Sloth bear tried unsuccessfully to shake the monkey loose after it took refuge on the structure, built of crossing horizontal and vertical poles.

Ignoring attempts by keepers to distract it, the bear climbed onto a horizontal pole, and, standing stretched on two legs, "used its sharp canines to pull the macaque, which was shrieking and resisting, from its perch."

The bear then brought the animal to a concrete den, where three bears ate it.

The zoo said it "usually wasn't possible" for keepers to intervene when an animal killed another.

The park plans now to move the Barbary macaques — which are large monkeys but often inaccurately called "Barbary Apes" — to another part of the park, it said.