Biting monkey still being sought

Thursday, September 27, 2007 | 8:06 p.m. CDT; updated 7:52 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The Columbia/Boone County Health Department on Thursday released this additional photo of the monkey and the woman believed to be its owner.

COLUMBIA — Health officials are still looking for the owner of the monkey that bit two children at Stephens Lake Park last Saturday.

“We still, at this moment, do not know who owned the animal,” said Gerry Worley, environmental health manager for the Columbia/Boone County Health Department. “Tips on the owner’s identity have not panned out.”

Worley wouldn’t say what legal action, if any, might be taken against the owner.

“We are just interested in talking with her,” Worley said.

The monkey, if found, will have its blood tested for Simian B and rabies, said Deidre Wood, spokeswoman for the health department. Simian B is also known as the Herpes B virus, Wood said.

The health department has also contacted the St. Louis Health Department, which is accustomed to dealing with monkey bites.

“People in Columbia take their primates to vets in St. Louis,” Worley said. “St. Louis has a couple of veterinarians who are primate veterinarians.”

Officials at the Columbia/Boone County Health Department hope to gain a better understanding of how to counsel people and physicians about the risks of monkey bites.

Wood wouldn’t say what could happen to the monkey if the owner surrenders it for investigation.

It’s not illegal to keep a monkey as a pet in Columbia but the animal, classified as “exotic,” must be registered, licensed or permitted by a government agency.

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