At the beginning of the 21st Century monsters still roam the remote, and sometimes not so remote, corners of our planet. It is our job to search for them. The Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ] is - we believe - the largest professional, scientific and full-time organisation in the world dedicated to cryptozoology - the study of unknown animals. Since 1992 the CFZ has carried out an unparalleled programme of research and investigation all over the world. Since 2009 we have been running the increasingly popular CFZ Blog Network, and although there has been an American branch of the CFZ for over ten years now, it is only now that it has a dedicated blog.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

MONKEYS ON THE LOOSE IN VIRGINIA: ZACHARY MANN INVESTIGATES

Spider Monkey



The other day I was at work sitting in the lunch room when I happened to overhear a conversation two fellow employees were having. I know eavesdropping is wrong, but in all honesty they were talking so loudly it would be kind of hard not to hear what they were saying. Anyway, they seemed for some reason to be talking about Spider Monkeys. Spider monkeys, for those of you who don’t know, are the largest family of monkeys in the New World, native to both Central and South America. They also have more than one link to Cryptozoology.
Several people have claimed sightings of extremely large unknown kinds of Spider Monkey in the remote hills and rainforests of Central and South America and a giant species of Spider Monkey discovered in the past few decades that lived just a few thousand years ago does give some credit to the possibility that another large species of these monkies could still be out there.  The most (in) famous example of Spider Monkey meets Cryptozoology however, is the connection to De Loy’s Apes. De Loy’s Ape is a hotly debated subject in the world of Cryptozoology, some declaring it proof of a large unknown species of ape in South America, others proclaiming it to be a hoax.
Maybe it’s just me, but whenever I hear people talk about animals I tend to get really excited. After all it is one of my favorite subjects, so I asked my fellow co-workers what they were talking about. They said, they were talking about this lady in Virginia who claimed a bunch of monkeys where living in her back yard. Monkeys in Virginia? There are not supposed to be any such things here. Naturally I wanted to learn more. So after work, I searched the local news websites to see if I could find what they were talking about. I did.
Apparently in the County of the Isle of Wight, a local woman, Amanda Jones Williams and her teenage son had recently been noticing something very strange in their back yard. To their surprise the creatures looked just like large monkeys. Naturally seeing large monkeys or monkeys of any kind in Virginia is an unusual sight. After seeing the apes, her son, Terrence, looked on line to see if he could identify the animals, the ones that matched closest where South American Spider Monkeys. However, this was not the end of the story. A short time later Ms. Williams saw the monkeys again, but this time she allegedly got them on tape.
The home movie is admittedly very low quality, however it does show something rather strange. The creature in the tree, while you are unable to make it out clearly, is definitely monkey shaped. Having seen numerous spider monkeys in books and up close at zoos, I think I can safely say they do indeed look like spider monkeys. Terrence says that they were in the trees eating plums and making a huge racket. Once the monkey spotted him it jumped down and ran away from them. It was soon followed by two more monkeys, one of which that was significantly smaller than the other. Animal control has since come out and set traps, but they have caught nothing. The family has not seen the monkeys since the day they took the video, but they insist they still here their calls on a regular biases.
This isn’t the first time Virginia has had some monkey business going on. In the Appalachian Mountains there have been for decades reports of large monkey or baboon like creatures in the back woods. They are described as large, powerful, and quiet aggressive towards people, property, and livestock.  Because of this fearsome reputation these creatures have collectively earned the title of Devil Monkeys. And Virginia is not alone. All across the South we get reports of such creatures. And while they are certainly ape-like they are far from looking and behaving like the typical Sasquatch type creature.
Now the most likely explanation, is that these animals are exotic escapees from a zoo, research facility or someone’s private collection. What is was most surprising was the immediate reaction by some people online to try and dismiss the whole thing as misidentification. Misidentification of what? What else native to Virginia looks like a monkey?  I could see if the video captured the animal on the ground moving, but it is clearly up in the trees. I ask again what normal native Virginian animal looks and acts like a monkey in a tree?
This does hark back to my discussion a few months ago, about how people tend to make what they want to make out of videos and sightings. Nowhere did any one suggest that these “monkeys” seen recently were unknown creatures, yet an immediate reaction was to label them a misidentification, when the much more simple explanation is a neglectful owner’s pets are on the lose. The traps are still in place, so hopefully whatever is out there will be caught soon. And if they truly are lost monkeys, here is hoping they go to a proper facility to spend out their days as opposed to going back to small suburban home where they will likely spend much of their remaining lives in what basically amounts to a closet.

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