Police are searching for at least five monkeys that they believe escaped from a private collection and were allegedly spotted by residents swinging from trees around Cincinnati, numerous sources reported.
Residents say they spotted the monkeys at St. Joseph Cemetery in the West Prince Hill section of the Ohio city Wednesday night and called the police in alarm, WLWT reported. Witnesses said they saw about five monkeys, and some claimed the animals appeared to be as tall as five feet, according to WLWT.
Alycha Tucker told WLWT that she heard the monkeys making grunting noises, and brought her cat inside. (RELATED: ‘We Live In A Cage’: Gangs Of Monkeys Take Over City In Thailand)
“My mom thought I was crazy. I said, ‘look there’s monkeys out here.’ Then I heard it making the noises, not ‘ooh ooh aah aah’ stuff, but grunts, so I didn’t know what it was,” Tucker told WLWT. “I just stood there as my eyes adjusted to pitch blackness and that is when I saw it, just standing there, taller than garbage can, and its arms were real long hanging down and its arms are real skinny.”
The Cincinnati Zoo offered to help the police department catch the monkeys, but police and an official from the zoo said there were no verified sightings yet, making it difficult for the zoo to help in the effort.
“There’s not much we can do until we have a confirmed sighting by Cincinnati police,” David Orban, the zoo’s director for animal science and strategy, told Fox 19. Because all of the zoo’s primates are accounted for, police believe the monkeys would have escaped from a private collection, Fox 19 reported.
Residents took videos of what they said were monkeys in the cemetery, and one video began to circulate on social media. Orban reviewed the video, but said it was hard to determine what animals were in the trees because the video was taken at night.
“Until we are able to identify them in the daylight, it’s hard to know. The Cincinnati Zoo will be here to assist and confirm, but at this point we need a confirmed sighting. If anyone does have a confirmed sighting of these monkeys they should call Cincinnati police,” Orban said, according to Fox 19.
As of Thursday, local police said they don’t have first-person officer reports of the escaped monkeys at the cemetery, according to the Enquier.
Staff of the Cincinnati Catholic Cemetery Society, which owns St. Joseph Cemetery, said they didn’t see any unusual activity after checking security footage.
Stephen Bitner, the president of the society, told the Enquirer that he and the cemetery’s manager conducted patrols around the property for hours and couldn’t “see anything that is similar to a monkey.”
Police have reportedly considered the possibility that the reports are misinformation, but said they’re taking them seriously.
Owners who met certain care standards and had already registered their animals were permitted to keep them as long as they live, but were barred from buying new ones or breeding those they have, according to the Enquirer.