Zoo expert unimpressed
Monkey business: Vigilantes attempt to capture escaped Waller monkeys withbanana traps & candy bars
What do you do when you want to catch a monkey by his toe?
Well, whatever you do, Houston, please resist the urge to feed the monkeys, and just let them go.
At least, that's the lesson a few primate prowlers around the region are learning.
Look, we can sympathize if having your very own Curious George is your lifelong dream come true. But you'd better leave the ones roaming around Waller County alone. They are wildfire escapees — up to 23 of them, from two different spots in Waller (one where monkeys were illegally kept as pets, one at a rescue facility). And they're not kidding around.
Grimes County sheriff Don Sowell says that he's received reports from residents of monkeys climbing on their cars and jumping up and down.
Definitely don't feed the monkeys chocolate — it makes them go bananas.
A game warden on the lookout for escaped Capuchin monkeys (there are also Rhesus monkeys on the loose) in Waller County figured that out the hard way. An unidentified official allegedly tossed the tiny Pirates of the Caribbean doppelganger a piece of her candy bar earlier this week while retreating into her vehicle. The next thing she knew, the sneaky simian had jumped into the front seat with her — and took a bite out of her, too.
In the words of Lynn Killam, assistant curator of primates at the Houston Zoo, "It never ends up well for the animal that's bitten someone." She's right — the monkey was eventually shot and killed by a sheriff deputy in Grimes County, the body transported to Waller County where an examination and rabies test were conducted.
But as everyone knows, those handy dandy yellow-skinned fruits are the nom du jour for a monkey. "Bananas are the preferred food item for just about any primate," Killam said. "But without a crate, capturing one could be dangerous."
So we have to wonder if a group of Waller County women riding around in a pickup truck full of bananas, looking for monkeys, are aware of these facts. This bushel of wily women (you can't make this stuff up) have devised the perfect monkey-catching trap — bananas on duct tape leashes.
Talk about monkey business.
"We've been taking care of them," Keri Hefner, one of the monkey seeking pickup truck crusaders, told KPRC. "We can't have monkeys on the loose."
But Killam doesn't exactly recommend that approach, either.
"I understand the desire to help, but these are savvy guys," Killam said. "They might come for the bananas, because they're recognizable. They're likely to bite if anyone tries to get too close, and someone is going to get severely bitten."
Now that our hopes of cuddling with a monkey have been flatly dismissed, what should happen to these poor displaced little beings?
"Someone needs to account for them and claim them," Killam said. "The person who let them loose should be one responsible for catching them."
Killam suggests immobilization with a dart gun, or setting up safe traps that can be closed remotely. These monkeys are enjoying their freedom though. Grimes County sheriff Don Sowell says that he's received reports from residents of monkeys climbing on their cars and jumping up and down. Sowell believes that several of the monkeys likely perished in the wildfires and thinks the reports of just how many are on the loose may be exaggerated.
This hasn't stopped the would-be monkey capturing vigilantes though.
In no way, shape, or form does the Houston Zoo expert recommend driving up to Waller County with bananas, calling "Here, monkey, monkey."
Not that any of you were interested in doing that, of course.
"There's no monkey that makes a good pet, and they should never be kept as pets, even if they're raised from a tiny baby," Killam said.
Monkeys are running wild, but you still can't have one. If your inner Jane Goodall hollers, let it go.