Escaped monkey running loose in Palmetto

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PALMETTO, FLA. - The Palmetto Police Department has received multiple calls about a wanted fugitive.

“He should be considered dangerous,” said Chief Rick Wells.

The short, hairy suspect has been spotted all across the city.

“He is moving very quickly and not staying in one spot for very long so we’ve had a hard time catching up to him.”

The wanted fugitive is actually a monkey first spotted on Snead Island.

“We’ve had several calls here in the last week from citizens that have spotted the monkey. He seems to be working his way east from Snead Island and he is now in Palmetto,” said Wells. A city code enforcement officer has seen the monkey but it has eluded all attempts at capture.

Dave Hecker said the monkey made a brief visit to his wooded back yard.

“He was walking across the palm trees and got on the trail and walked back into the woods.”

Hecker says his wife spotted while she was talking on the phone.

“She stopped mid-stream and said, my god there is a baboon!” explained Hecker He says he was standing right beside her but didn’t see the large monkey at first. He said he finally spotted him as he was walking deeper into their woods.

“It was pretty big actually, I thought it was more like 70 or 80 pounds.”

It is not the first time monkeys have been spotted on the loose in Florida. A macaque monkey was on the lam for years in St. Petersburg before finally being captured in October 2012. Another monkey escaped from his owner while animal services attempted to capture it in September 2012 in Sanford, Florida. Last summer in Miami, a small Capuchin sized monkey was spotted on the loose.

As far as the Hecker family is concerned, they don’t care if the monkey is a fugitive, they are just glad he stopped by their yard.

“Having kids and all that we have Curious George books all over the house and when the Florida game fish people came I thought they should have yellow hats to catch George,” said Hecker, adding, “we named him George.

In the meantime, Palmetto Police will keep their eyes on the trees. “We have a perimeter and the perimeter continues to grow,” Chief Wells said with a laugh.

Chief Wells says anyone who spots the monkey should not try to approach it. He says it is a wild animal and can be dangerous. Anyone who does spot the monkey should call the Palmetto Police Department at 941-721-2000.