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20120511_MONKEY_TRAP_2_LEGMISSION — Reports of monkey sightings have been coming to the Mission Police Department, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Mission Health Department from as far east as Shary Road, as far west as Western Road, as far north as 5 Mile Line Road and as far south as 2 Mile Line Road. The majority of the reported sightings, however, have been concentrated along 2 Mile Line Road between

 Inspiration and Holland roads. And while those reports continue to come into local authorities, catching the primate has proven difficult as officials set up traps this week to catch the elusive monkeys.

Ernesto Zapata, a health department supervisor, said he saw a monkey on May 4. After two weeks of responding to various sightings, with no monkeys anywhere to be found upon his arrival, Zapata was responding to what he expected to be another monkey-less monkey sighting. Soon after arrival at this location however, he spotted something moving under a citrus tree. Upon closer inspection, Zapata saw a monkey that he estimated to be 2 ½ feet tall.

“By the way that they describe them to us and by what I saw, it looks like a Long-tailed Macaque,” said Zapata. “We did some research on them and found that they’re not aggressive and that they eat nuts, fruits and insects.”

It was also in that general area that a security camera recently videotaped a monkey, Zapata said.

It’s unclear if that was the same monkey that Zapata saw, but despite reports of monkeys being sighted in groups of three or four at a time, there is no substantiated evidence of there being more than one monkey on the loose in the Mission area, authorities said.

With what is now a confirmed sighting of an escaped monkey within Mission’s city limits, the city is moving forward with plans to trap the primate as quickly and as humanely as possible. The city has received permission from the landowner where the monkey was sighted to set live-catch traps in an attempt to capture the animal.

“We’re just trying to prevent injury to the monkey,” Zapata said. “We’re being pro-active. We don’t want something to happen which could cause things to escalate to a different level.”

20120511_TRAP_LEGZapata is referring to the possibility of the monkey causing bodily injury to a person or a pet should it feel threatened.

Authorities said there have been no reports of any property damage or of any injury to people or pets as a result of the monkey’s presence. However, Jerry Stones from the Gladys Porter Zoo said monkeys do have large canine teeth that are capable of inflicting serious bodily injury should the monkey feel the need to defend itself. Therefore, it’s crucial that anybody that comes across a monkey on the loose not approach it, feed it or attempt to capture it themselves. Instead they should call police or health department officials.

As for what will happen to the monkey when it’s captured, Zapata hopes to be able to turn it over to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville.

Stones, facilities director and the curator of mammals at Gladys Porter Zoo, has agreed to take the monkey upon its capture but only if he is given authority by local law enforcement to take possession of the primate. That will prevent the possibility of its owner showing up later to claim it.

Zoo officials have offered to help city officials capture the monkey if it can be isolated to a small enough area that will allow members of zoo staff to make the drive to Mission with a good possibility of finding it. That will increase the chances of capturing the monkey as quickly and as safely as possible, officials said.

To report any monkey sightings within the Mission city limits, call the MPD at 956-584-5000 or at the non-emergency direct line of 3-1-1. Sightings can also be reported to the City of Mission’s Health Department at 956-580-8741, weekdays between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or by calling Zapata directly at 956-222-1007 after hours or on weekends.

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