Marauding Monkeys Pelt Vehicles on Interstate Motorists Report Fruit Attacks on Busy Virginia Highway

September 22, 2000

By Richard Zitrin

JARRATT, Va. ( -- State Trooper Mike Scott has patrolled heavily traveled Interstate 95 in southern Virginia for two years and he thought he had seen it all.

Now, Scott figures, he has seen it all -- including monkeys in a tree pelting passing vehicles with fruit.

The trooper's close encounter with three monkeys on the loose occurred Sunday morning, when he was driving along I-95 and came across a car pulled over on the shoulder of the road, state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.

'He just started laughing'

As he walked to the car, Scott saw what appeared to be a banana smashed against the rear window.

He noticed the driver, a woman from Pennsylvania, had a grin on her face and a cellular telephone in her hand.

"You know, I was just about to call you guys, but I didn't think the dispatcher would believe me," she reportedly told Scott. "You're going to think I'm crazy, but I think two monkeys just threw a banana at my car."

The woman, who identified herself as a paleontologist, said she was sure the animals she had seen were monkeys.

"The trooper said he couldn't help it, but he just started laughing," Geller told today. "He said he'll never laugh at anyone again after this."

Crabapples flung from trees

Scott returned to the area where the woman said her car had been hit with a banana and the trooper found two other vehicles -- a van and a car -- on the side of the road.

A man in one of the vehicles told Scott a monkey had thrown an apple at his car. As the trooper listened, a crabapple dropped from a tree and hit the van.

"He looked up and, sure enough, there were a bunch of monkeys, three of them, in a tree," Geller said. "They were 2- or 3-feet tall, slender, brownish-gray. He said they reminded him of the organ-grinder monkeys."

Soon after, the three monkeys scampered down the tree and across the interstate to the opposite side.

No reports of missing simians

Scott and another trooper followed the monkeys as they swung from trees along I-95 until they disappeared into woods, Geller said.

They have not been seen since, and there have been no reports of monkeys missing in southern Virginia or nearby northern North Carolina, Geller said.

Police theorized the monkeys might have been traveling with someone to the state fair in Richmond, which is about 60 miles north of here, but no one there apparently has lost such animals, she said.

'I suspect they'll show up again'

The three monkeys likely are capuchins that were someone's pets, said Metro Richmond Zoo Director Jim Andelin. Capuchins are highly intelligent, and some are trained to assist people with disabilities, he said.

The monkeys last seen Sunday along I-95 probably could find enough vegetation to cope on their own until the winter, he said. They would not be able to live through the winter without human care, Andelin said.

The three monkeys probably will eventually seek out people because they are not accustomed to fending for themselves, he said.

"I suspect that they'll show up again somewhere," Andelin said.

©Copyright 2000 APB Multimedia Inc.

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