Texas Deputy Takes Down Monkey on the Lam

Sept. 15, 2011
When Grimes County Sheriff Don Sowell says he won't deal with any monkey business, he means it.

When Grimes County Sheriff Don Sowell says he won't deal with any monkey business, he means it.

After a monkey bit a game warden's arm and managed to elude authorities for several days, Sowell on Wednesday morning directed a deputy to shoot and kill the animal. The monkey had been released during the wildfire evacuations by its Waller County owners.

"There had been several sightings in the last two days, but he wasn't going to be captured," Sowell said. "Safety is my priority and it was my direction to take it down."

In addition to the monkey sinking its teeth into a game warden, Sowell said he received reports from residents who had been startled by the monkey when it climbed on top of their vehicles and started jumping up and down.

A deputy and officials with the Waller County Animal Control Unit located the monkey in the West Magnolia Forest near Plantersville after residents reported its location.

It was one of 10 rescued monkeys kept on a ranch in Waller County, Sowell said, adding he didn't have many details about the owner or where the Rhesus monkeys were rescued from.

Of the other nine, seven were back with their owner and the other two likely died in the fire, but may still be on the run, Sowell said.

The body of the monkey shot by a Sowell deputy was taken to Baker Veterinary Clinic in Hempstead, where a rabies test was conducted, officials said.

By late afternoon, the emergency clinic's owner, Dr. Wendall Baker, said he had completed the test and sent it off to a lab.

He said he expected to have the results back within the next week.

Baker said testing the animal would save the game warden who was bit the trouble and pain of having herself tested.

The game warden came in contact with the monkey last week and tossed it a piece of her chocolate candy bar before getting in her vehicle, Baker said.

But before she could close the door, the monkey somehow jumped on the warden and bit her before taking off with the candy, he said.

Although not alive, Baker said the monkey was the first primate he's attended to in his 37 years as a Waller County veterinarian.

"I've worked with everything else," he said. "I had no idea that there were any monkeys in the area."

Baker said approximately 27 dogs, 18 horses and nine cats were being treated and kept at his clinic as a result of the fire, and he expected more animals would come as evacuated residents continue to return to their homes.

"This is the official emergency holding facility where we're administering care and holding animals who are unidentified as far as their owners," he said.

Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk said he can't recall ever dealing with any monkeys locally.

Had he been in Sowell's shoes, Kirk said he would have done the same thing to protect his community.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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