Monkey on loose in Pennsylvania after crash on way to laboratory

Residents of a Pennsylvania county were warned on Saturday not to approach a monkey still missing after a crash involving a pickup towing a trailer taking about 100 of the animals to a research laboratory.

State troopers urged people not to look for or capture the cynomolgus monkey following the Friday afternoon crash on a state highway near an Interstate 80 exit in Montour county.

“Anyone who sees or locates the monkey is asked not to approach, attempt to catch, or come in contact with the monkey. Please call 911 immediately,” a tweet said.

Several monkeys escaped after the collision between the pickup and a dump truck but as of Saturday morning only one remained unaccounted for, officials said. The Pennsylvania Game Commission and other agencies were searching in frigid weather.

The truck had been on its way to a lab, a state trooper, Andrea Pelachick, told the Daily Item newspaper of Sunbury.

The location of the lab and the type of research for which the monkeys were destined weren’t clear, but cynomolgus monkeys are often used in medical studies. A paper posted on the website of the National Center for Biotechnology Information refers to them as the most widely used primate in preclinical toxicology studies.

Trooper Laura Lesher said state police secured the scene for the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The condition of the motorists wasn’t clear, nor was it clear if any citations were issued.

A witness, Michelle Fallon, told the Press Enterprise newspaper of Bloomsburg she spoke with the pickup driver and a passenger after the crash. The driver appeared to be disoriented, and the passenger thought he might have injured his legs, she said.

Crates littered the road as troopers searched for monkeys, rifles in hand. Valley Township firefighters used thermal imaging to locate the animals and a helicopter assisted, the Press Enterprise reported.

The pickup was heading west on Interstate 80 when it got off at the Danville exit then immediately tried to get back on, driving across the other lane, the newspaper reported.

Fallon told the Press Enterprise she was behind the pickup when it was hit on the passenger side by the dump truck, tearing off the front panel of the trailer and sending more than a dozen crates tumbling out.

She and another motorist who stopped to help were standing near the scene when the other driver said he thought he saw a cat run across the road, Fallon said.

Fallon peeked into a crate and saw a small monkey looking back at her, she told the newspaper.

“They’re monkeys,” she told the other motorist.

With Associated Press


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