British Columbia

'Don't approach the monkey': Search continues for fugitive primate

Capuchin monkey was 'last seen heading off into the forest' on Saturday.

Capuchin monkey was 'last seen heading off into the forest' on Saturday

There are several species of capuchin monkeys, including the crested capuchin, shown in this file photo. (Hung Do/Wikimedia)

The search continues for a missing monkey on Vancouver Island, after the exotic animal escaped from a private animal sanctuary near Cowichan Lake.

The Conservation Officer Service says it first got a call on Saturday that the fugitive primate was "last seen heading off into the forest."

The officers searched for the monkey, said Sergeant Scott Norris, but "the area has a lot of very dense forest and vegetation around, making it very challenging and difficult to locate the animal."

Officials said the monkey had not yet been found as of Wednesday morning. 

The animal is a male capuchin monkey. "They are a fairly small, sort of browny-black monkey," says Norris.

'Don't approach the monkey'

The monkey escaped from Primate Estate, an exotic animal sanctuary located on Cowichan Lake Road and run by the Bell family.

Nobody answered the phone there Wednesday morning, but Norris said the family has been out looking.

"The owners are out actively trying to capture this monkey, trying to get it back," he said.

Jamie Bell posted this picture of herself and a capuchin monkey on her Facebook page. (Jamie Bell/Facebook)

"We're asking anyone if they see it to please call our RAP Line at 1-877-952-7277.

"Don't approach the monkey. There is a chance you can get bitten. We wouldn't want to see someone get injured or get any disease transfer that is possible."

Norris said the hope is the monkey will either be spotted in a tree where it can be captured, or it will return to the sanctuary on its own when it gets hungry.

"At this point, the risk to the public is low, but again we are asking the public to call the RAP Line if they do see the monkey so we can get it back to it's habitat."

Vancouver Island runaways

Runaway exotics are not a rarity on Vancouver Island, it seems.

The same animal refuge used to house Suzie, a Bengal tiger who also fled her enclosure back in 2007.

Other recent island runaways include a Sooke serval cat and Lucy the emu from Nanaimo.

Lucy the Emu was spotted on the run in Nanaimo, B.C., but not considered a flight risk. (Twitter)

Further afield, there was also a runaway cheetah in the Kootenays.

Exotic animals in B.C. are covered by a 2010 pet law that restricts the ownership and breeding of non-native animals. 

With files from Luisa Alvarez at CHEK News