Missing monkey found, returned to Ontario zoo

A Japanese snow monkey that escaped from a private zoo near Picton, Ont., has been found.

A Japanese snow monkey that escaped from a private zoo near Picton, Ont., has been found.

Ontario Provincial Police Const. Kim Guthrie said the adult male Japanese macaque named Julian was spotted by a local resident in a wooded area surrounded by marshes less than half a kilometre from its enclosure ata zoo owned and run by Joe and Pat Bergeron.

A Japanese macaque similar to Julian, the monkey that escaped from Bergeron's Exotic Animal Sanctuary. ((The Associated Press))
The resident called police, who sedated the monkey with a tranquilizer gun.

"Once the monkey was sedate enough, with the assistance of Joe Bergeron, the monkey was collected and brought back to his enclosure," Guthrie said.

Police and bylaw officers had been searching for the adult male Japanese macaque in the woods and fields near Bergeron's Exotic Animal Sanctuary sincePat Bergeron noticedit missing on Sunday just after noon.

A day after his disappearance, Bergeron said she hoped the monkey was hiding nearby. "I'm sure he's out there totally afraid. He's never never been out of his enclosure since the day he was born."

An OPP news release issued Monday said the monkeyweighed nine to 11 kilograms, had long brown hair and a distinctive red face and, according to its owners, posed no physical threat to the public.

However, the release noted that this type of monkey can potentially carry the herpes B virus, which is transmitted through bites or scratches and can cause brain inflammation and death in humans.

Policewarned people not to approach the animal.

The escape came just over a month beforeBergeron and her husband Joeare to appear at an Ontario Municipal Board appeal hearing that will determine whether the zoo can operate legally.

Neighbours are appealing a rezoning bylaw passed last year by the Prince Edward County council that puts the zoo in compliance with municipal regulations.

They say the operation, which houses more than 150 animals including lions, baboons, deer and prairie dogs, is unsafe.

Cage tampered with, owner says

Bergeron said the timing and circumstances of the escapewere suspicious.

She saidshe noticed something was wrong with the monkeys on Sunday morning, so she went to check their enclosure, which resembles a six-metre-high bird cage.

"And I saw that their enclosure had been tampered with," she said, adding that the two clasps that held the fencing together had been undone. "What concerns me is, we've had a lot of this kind of stuff lately … I feel like something's going on because to my knowledge, the enclosure was fine until Saturday night."

Police have advisedthe Bergerons to set up video surveillance on their property.

Animal right group calls for tougher zoo laws

The escape prompted a letter to Ontario MPPs from the Toronto-based animal rights group World Society for the Protection of Animals Canada.

"This is proof that Ontario's lax zoo regulations are not working," said the letter signed by the group's program officer, Melissa Tkachyk. "Roadside zoos present a very real threat to the health and safety of Ontarians."

The group noted that B.C. moved to strengthen its zoo regulations after a woman was mauled to death by a tiger at an exotic animal farm near 100 Mile House last week, and urged Ontario to be proactive.

Liberal MPP David Zimmer introduced a private member's bill, Bill 154, last October that would require all zoos to be licensed and meet public safety standards, but the legislation is still waiting for second and third reading in the house.

According to the owners, Bergeron's Exotic Animal Sanctuary opened to the public in 1994.The zoowas found guilty of zoning bylaw infractions in 2002.

The Bergerons negotiated with the county council, which passed a rezoning bylaw in 2006 to allow the zoo to operate legally. A month later, the zoo's neighbours filed an appeal. An Ontario Municipal Board hearing is set for June 25 to July 6.