Wednesday, March 21, 2012
I was working on a story on a big water line replacement project in Wilkes-Barre when I was sent to check reports of a monkey on the loose in Ashley. Really? I've been in the biz more than thirty years. This was my first monkey hunt.
I met up with a photographer, who was already in Ashley. He informed that the monkey had been captured, and was inside a home with the owner. I stood watch outside, as members of the Pennsylvania Game Commission waited to take the critter away.
I expected to see a little spider monkey, the kind organ grinders have. I was mildly surprised when the owner walked out with a rather large monkey sitting on his shoulder. He looked harmless enough, until the monkey opened his mouth, exposing a frighteningly large set of teeth.
I've read enough monkey stories over the years to know they can be vicious little beasts. I had to get close enough to get the story, but far away enough for some degree of safety. Game Commission officers were armed. The monkey, Tyler, was on a leash and a chain. It seemed safe enough, but I was still concerned. You had to see those teeth.
I should back up a bit. Earlier in the morning, while Tyler was still on the run, police put out an advisory about a potentially dangerous monkey on the loose. Clearly, people were worried here. Tyler might have been a pet, but he is still a wild animal.
Tyler got loose when the owner's son decided to take him, leash-less, on a pre dawn ATV excursion. Big mistake. Only in Northeastern Pennsylvania can someone get caught taking a monkey on a moonlight ATV ride.
The monkey was spotted on a porch a few blocks away. The owner came to claim him, and what could have been a dangerous situation was diffused. Keeping a monkey as a pet is illegal, and the Game Commission reminded the owner of that. The animal was surrendered to the state, and the owner faces a fine.
Tyler was taken to a facility for wild animals in Snyder County, where he will hopefully have a happy, safe and long life.
The Game Commission put Tyler in a dog cage. The owner told the officers the cage might not be strong enough to hold the monkey. The cage was reinforced with wire and tie wraps. Tyler was given a stuffed bunny to play with. He still seemed agitated, and I too felt the cage might not be strong enough.
I talked with Tyler's owner-- who said the monkey was great pet. He was upset over that happened. He had Tyler for 15 years. Neighbors didn't object to a wild animal in the neighborhood.
Here's what I really want to know. It's widely known that you can't own wild animals. Tyler the monkey was one of the neighborhood's best known residents. Ashley is a small town. There are no secrets. Tyler lived in Ashley for 15 years. Word of a monkey in town had to make its way to the police department. Why was nothing done?
Even if Tyler was a model citizen, and there's nothing to indicate he wasn't, I'd still be uncomfortable with a monkey on the block.
AT 12:00 AM