Fastest monkeys on earth won't be easy to recapture

The monkeys are still on the loose.

Fifteen monkeys swam across a moat last weekend and escaped the island where Lex Salisbury, the chief executive of Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, was keeping them. The people looking for them say recapturing them could take a week. Or more.

Escaping, as it turns out, is what these monkeys do best.

More specifically, these are Patas monkeys, the fastest primates on earth, with a top recorded speed of 35 mph. They make Maurice Greene and Michael Johnson look like joggers. Their bodies resemble greyhounds. According to the Web site of the Honolulu Zoo, their reddish coats and white mustaches make them look like grumpy, retired British colonels.

Plus they're smart. One will stand guard, acting as a noisy decoy if necessary, while the rest of the group sprints silently away through the tall grass, the Web site said. In other words, this is delicate.

"You just don't go in there with a bunch of people and stir up the place," Gary Morse, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said Wednesday afternoon. Salisbury is leading the effort to find his monkeys, but the commission is helping. "It makes it impossible to catch the animals."

Operation Monkeybars, as it is not called, involves the strategic placement of apples, bananas and monkey chow. Also cages. But not all at once. First the monkeys have to get used to finding the food. Then fresh food goes in the cages. Then, perhaps, for the hungry, cunning, grumpy British colonels, the vacation will end with the snap of a trap door.

Fastest monkeys on earth won't be easy to recapture 04/23/08 [Last modified: Sunday, April 27, 2008 2:15pm]

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