Monkeys Enjoy a Night On the Town in Cincinnati, Ohio

Holly Slater by Satheesh Sankaran on Unsplash

It’s been one wild and crazy night for a group of monkeys, who are still on the loose in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Reported sightings began trickling into the police department at around 10 p.m. on Wednesday, April 7. Thursday morning, police confirmed that five monkeys are indeed out and about on the Queen City’s West Side, including some that were spotted swinging from the trees at Saint Joseph’s Cemetery at West Eight Street and Enright Avenue.

Police are working together with the Cincinnati Zoo in an effort to round up the adventurous primates, which were caught on video doing some monkey business. 

“Only in price hill there was real life, wild life monkeys swinging outside and…and they was [sic] swinging outside my house,” writes Sammy Trinh in a quick Facebook post along with the video. 

Authorities believe the monkeys to have potentially escaped from a private owner. 

Is it legal to own monkeys in Ohio? 

Ohio law on keeping exotic animals is…complicated. In 2012, an exotic-animals law passed which bans private owners from acquiring, selling, and breeding certain restricted species in Ohio. 

The restricted list includes cool cats and kittens such as lions and tigers. Also bears, elephants, rhinos, alligators, and all venomous snakes (oh my). And yes, certain types of monkeys are also on the restricted species list. from Twitter

However — owners who registered the animals they already have are allowed to keep them as long as they live. But they have to follow strict caging and care standards, and they can’t breed the animals for any reason. 

The rules don’t stop there. These owners are also required to pay a “wildlife shelter” fee of $250 for one to three animals and up to $1,000 for 11 to 15 animals. Additionally, they have to keep liability insurance or a surety bond of $200,000 to $1 million, according to the Columbus Dispatch

As far as monkeys are concerned, Ohioans are allowed to own marmosets, capuchins, lemurs, and squirrel monkeys, as noted by the Department of Agriculture. Any other species are considered dangerous wild animals. 

Who can blame them for going bananas? 

The verdict is still out on what species of monkey are exploring on their own today, taking in the many great sights of the Queen City. It’s also still unclear who the private owner is, and whether or not these creatures are kept legally. 

The fact that they’ve managed to escape obviously points at something problematic going on. Has the owner abandoned or neglected them? Is the caging and security situation not up to par? Were they purposely set free, or has something gone terribly wrong? Is this a Joe Exotic situation, or simply an accident that could happen to any animal-loving owner? 

More questions than answers at this time, but one thing is clear. This monkey fam is as tired of being cooped up as the rest of us. For those who are often staying in to help stop the spread of COVID-19, these are certainly restless times. But as the vaccine slowly rolls out, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel. 

Just make sure that tunnel is clear of monkeys, especially if you’re out for a stroll in Cincinnati today. 

I know this writer is experiencing a bit of jealousy herself. Last night I had an uneventful evening of watching Schitt’s Creek reruns followed by TikTok videos. The most exciting part of my night was trying out a new mouthguard that supposedly helps with snoring. 

I’m half-tempted to go on a stroll myself and see if I can’t spot some fun-loving primates swinging through the trees. But don’t worry, I’ll keep my social distance. 

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Writing about places to see, things to do, and news to know.

Cincinnati, OH

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