Health department investigates lead in monkey bite case

Friday, November 2, 2007 | 7:07 p.m. CDT; updated 12:27 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — After more than a month of searching, the Columbia/Boone County Health Department has a new lead in the hunt for the owner of a monkey that bit two children at Stephens Lake Park.

The health department received a call Friday morning with a tip that Libby Brozovich of Springfield owned the monkey, said Diedre Wood, a spokeswoman for the department.

Brozovich called later that morning and told a health official that her monkey did not bite anyone, Wood said. She did not give the official a permanent address, phone number or offer to have her monkey tested for diseases.

Wood said the department would like to have the owner turn in the monkey for 24 hours of observation and a blood test. The testing would not require the monkey to be euthanized.

The health department unsuccessfully looked for an address or phone number for Brozovich, who is the department’s main lead, Wood said. Several addresses appeared for Brozovich, but she is not currently living at those locations, Wood said.

Wood said a hindrance of the search will be “finding someone on the go, who has a lifestyle like that where they move a lot.”

The department would like to issue a summons for Brozovich, but it needs her address.

A Rhesus Macaque bit a 7-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl during a dog show at the park Sept. 22.

The department has had more than 15 reports of monkey sightings since the search began.

Wood said the department is heavily dependent on outside agencies to help find the monkey’s owner. She said they have worked with a variety of state agencies, including the St. Louis Zoo, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the St. Louis area health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and local physicians.

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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