Several monkeys were on the loose in rural Pennsylvania after a truck carrying about 100 of the animals crashed on a highway.
Pennsylvania State Police revealed that a pickup truck that was carrying the monkeys in an enclosed trailer collided with a dump truck, prompting four of the animals to escape.
The animals carried in the trailer were cynomolgus monkeys, which are often used in research and can cost as much as $10,000 each.
They were being transported to a lab in Florida when the crash took place at around 3.20pm on Friday on Route 54 close to Interstate 80 in Montour County, according to state police. The crash happened about 150 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
There were no injuries reported but both police and state wildlife officials came to the scene of the crash as the search for the escaped monkeys stretched into the night.
On Saturday morning, Pennsylvania State Police said that “there is still one monkey unaccounted for, but we are asking that no one attempt to look for or capture the animal. Anyone who sees or locates the monkey is asked not to approach, attempt to catch, or come in contact with the monkey. Please call 911 immediately”.
“We are bringing out animal specialists so there are people who can safely capture them and tranquilize them, if needed,” state police spokesperson Lauren Lesher said on Friday night, according toThe New York Times.
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, cynomolgus monkeys were in high demand for vaccine research. Some scientists were suggesting creating a monkey reserve much like the ones the US government keeps for oil and grain.
According to the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, the monkeys “have the habit of inserting their hands in small burrows or holes to find crabs or other animals. In the mangrove swamps of their wild habitat, they have learned to feed on crabs and other small animals exposed by the low tide”.
The centre added that in captivity, the monkeys can live around 30 years. “The cynomolgus monkey is best known as the first preclinical test animal for the development of the polio vaccine.”
Jamie Labar works at a Super 8 hotel close to the scene of the accident.
“I thought it was just another car accident because there’s always accidents there,” she toldThe New York Times.
“I hope somebody gets them out of the cold, whoever it is,” she added as temperatures in the county were forecasted to reach zero degrees Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius) on Friday night.
“I saw it on Facebook, and actually this started as kind of a family fun joke about just making an experience and going to try and save a monkey, so I actually brought a kennel, flashlights night vision goggles,” Nate Allen, whose family drove half an hour to the scene, told WBRE.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies