Monkeys Flee Research Center, Keepers Trying to Lure Them with Bananas

March 12, 2003 (CNN)

COVINGTON, Louisiana (AP) — Two dozen monkeys escaped from a research center and holed up in a forest, where animal-control workers used bananas and oranges to try to lure them out.

The monkeys are classified as disease-free and posed no health risk to humans, but workers trying to capture the animals wore protective gowns and gloves as a standard precaution, said Fran Simon, a spokeswoman for the Tulane Regional Primate Center.

By Wednesday, eight of the 24 rhesus macaques remained on the loose.

“When they get hungry enough, they’ll come back,” Simon said.

The Tulane Regional Primate Research Center, established in 1964, is the largest of eight federally funded primate research centers, with 500 acres of land, eight buildings and about 5,000 monkeys. Its main study area is infectious diseases caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites.

It was not clear how the monkeys escaped from a fenced area outside the research facility Tuesday, said James Hartman, a spokesman for the St. Tammany Parish sheriff.

In the past, animal-rights activists have freed or attempted to free monkeys, but there were no signs that vandalism played any role in Tuesday’s escape, Hartman said.