Escaped Monkey Captured After Roaming Loose for a Day in Florida

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A capuchin monkey enjoyed a day on the town after breaking out of a Florida zoo.

The clever 30-year-old monkey named Jack escaped from the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor on Sunday, Nov. 7. Workers were trying to retrieve something from his cage when the netting used to contain him caught on the wall and left a clear path out of the cage’s main door, according to Nancy Nagel, a sanctuary board member. Once Jack saw a chance at freedom, he darted.

Jack then took staff members on a wild chase that left residents stunned. A cyclist named Natani Daehne caught some of the chaos on camera when the monkey ran past her while she was taking a ride on the Pinellas Trail.

“So, a monkey escaped from the primate sanctuary, and they’re trying to round him up,” she says in the clip.

The footage was taken during the early stages of the monkey’s adventure, but the staff was already frustrated and fed up. Several men can be seen holding nets and attempting to surround Jack, and a few bikers join in to block him from running away.

However, Jack seems to enjoy toying with everyone. He lets the men get just close enough to think they have him before he runs away. The game continues until Jack decides to dash into a nearby forest.

“I think he’s gone. Good luck guys,” Daehne says as the monkey disappears into the trees.

The Escaped Monkey Spent the Night in the Wild

The monkey continued to evade his captors the rest of the day, and he spent the night in the wild. On Monday, experts with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission joined the hunt.

That morning around 10 am, Jack’s fun came to an end. However, it appeared that he was ready to go home. Nagel shared that Jack allowed a fellow board member, Christy Holley, to capture him with her hands and a towel. He had returned to the sanctuary and was only standing a few feet from where he had escaped.

“We got him back!” she told Tampa Bay Times in a phone interview. “He was close by, thank God. It’s a miracle!”

Two troops of wild monkeys do actually live in South Florida. But, wildlife officials say that nonwild primates can be dangerous to native species. Nagel shared that Jack is timid and was never a threat to humans or other animals, however.

The publication reached out to Daehne and shared that Jack had made his way home.

“That’s good news!” she said. “Though I was kind of rooting for the little guy and his little adventure. But I’m glad he’s not roaming the neighborhoods or terrorizing any pets. A happy ending.”