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Capturing monkey is serious business

Ruth Bell said police thought she was drunk when she told them a monkey had scampered into her kitchen and stolen a piece of chicken. "They said, "Lady, what have you been drinking?"' Bell said.

But when police arrived on her block Monday afternoon, they found a dark monkey running around the neighborhood.

Bell said police, with the help of an animal expert, came to her home at 2250 25th St. S in St. Petersburg just after 1 p.m. and captured the monkey, but not before it ran off with a piece of Bell's chicken, bit the animal expert and entertained dozens of schoolchildren with its antics.

Police said Bell was preparing to cook chicken early Monday afternoon when the monkey entered her home, jumped on the kitchen counter and grabbed a piece of the meat. Bell couldn't believe what she had seen and started counting her chicken legs, police said.

Only after confronting her husband and granddaughter about the chicken, did Bell realize she really did see a monkey, police said.

They said Bell then noticed the monkey sitting in the living room eating chicken. She screamed and the monkey dropped the chicken and ran away, police said.

Debra Parker of Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Inc. in St. Petersburg also showed up with police. She had been stalking the 6-pound Capuchin monkey since Sunday when several of Bell's neighbors saw the monkey in their back yards. But each time Ms. Parker arrived in the area, the monkey disappeared.

On Monday, she finally saw him.

"When I got there, the monkey was out of the house and running around," she said.

Parker said Bell's small black dog chased the monkey onto a patio at the St. Petersburg Challenge School, just north of her home.

"I didn't have time to put gloves on," Parker said. "I thought, "Oh, my God, it's going to go into the school and bite somebody and scare the kids half to death."'

She said she ran up the ramp to the patio and reached for the monkey. When she grabbed it, the monkey bit her. Schoolchildren were cheering.

"All the kids were watching," Parker said. "I got a standing ovation."

She said the monkey was wearing a black leather collar and a tag that read "Cleo." The tag said Cleo lived at 2335 Murilla Way S. Police found two other caged monkeys at the home but were unable to contact the owner Monday afternoon.