01/26/07 — Escaped monkey observed on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base

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Escaped monkey observed on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on January 26, 2007 1:52 PM

She had no escort or permission.

But after more than a month of swinging from Rosewood to Goldsboro, she got onto Seymour Johnson Air Force Base anyway.

Obviously monkeys don't play by the rules established by the United States military.

Base officials confirmed Thursday that an escaped Japanese Snow Monkey has been spotted inside the gates.

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Fourth Fighter Wing Safety Director Tim Edwards said an effort to capture the animal is currently under way.

"What we're trying to do, we've got a live trap set," he said. "We're getting her used to going in and eating the fruit."

Currently, the trap is being filled with different food and left open to lure the animal into a false sense of security, he added.

"Hopefully, giving it the ability to go in and eat and come out, that will get her confidence up," Edwards said.

In a few days, the trap will be rigged to close when the monkey grabs her snack.

Officials from the Department of Agriculture and Civil Engineering Entomology Department are hoping their tactics work, Edwards added.

Still, if the trap fails, they have a backup plan -- an expert from the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro armed with a tranquilizer gun.

But Edwards said even that method of capture has its drawbacks.

"It's going to be hard to get close enough," he said.

The monkey, owned by Frankie Piscopo of Nahunta, escaped in early December and has been spotted all over Wayne County since.

Residents at the Magnolia House, a group home and vocational rehabilitation center, reported the first sighting Dec. 7. They had been watching the monkey for days, some said -- taking pictures, feeding her and giving her the name Maggie as she roamed the back yard. Attempts to trap her there failed.

This morning, members of the wing are being urged to leave the capture mission to the experts.

A statement from officials to the airmen warned them to "be aware of the potential hazards of an encounter with a wild animal."

"The monkey has shown no aggressiveness, but do not approach or feed (it) under any circumstance," the statement said. "Leave this to the experts in the field."