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15 monkeys loose in Florida after escape

Wildlife officials say 15 monkeys escaped a facility in Lakeland, Fla. Trappers are hoping bananas and sweet potatoes will help net the primates.
/ Source: news services

Wildlife officials say 15 monkeys are on the loose after escaping a facility in Lakeland, Florida.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Gary Morse says the patas monkeys apparently escaped their island home by swimming across a pond — something they're not supposed to be able to do.

Morse says several teams are out looking for the primates, and that they are no threat to humans. Tampa Bay Online reported that patas monkeys are people shy.

The 11 adults and four juveniles are the personal pets of Lex Salisbury, the chief executive officer of Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa.

Tampa Bay Online reported that bananas and sweet potatoes will be laid out in the same spot for a couple of days to lure — and hopefully net the monkeys.

The primates apparently broke out into three groups after a news helicopter frightened them, according to the Web site. A sod farmer reportedly spotted some monkeys — and a wildlife officer saw a lone male in his backyard.

Tampa Bay Online also reported that the moat generally works for monkeys born in captivity, but these were born in the wild and captured in the grasslands of Puerto Rico.

The primates will not be placed back on the island but in a more secure enclosure — when caught, according to the site.