A baboon described as the size of a small dog, and the “primate with the red bottom,” is eluding police in Jackson, New Jersey. At around 12:20pm today, it was seen “in a full run towards the east,” presumably to get the hell out of town. Police spokesman Captain David Newman told the Asbury Park Press, “It’s moving quickly and we are trying to keep up with the animal at this point.”
Since yesterday afternoon, four other Jackson residents called police with reports of a baboon strolling by the I-195, hanging on one woman’s back porch, and crossing through backyards. The sightings, which were near the Six Flags Monkey Jungle, prompted 1) speculation that the baboon is an escapee from the amusement park, and 2) at least two fake twitter accounts created earlier this morning, one of which already has almost 1,000 followers (@NewJerseyBaboon).
Six Flags spokeswoman Kristin Siebeneicher told the Asbury Park Press that there have been no breaches in the Monkey Jungle’s fence and no baboons seem to be missing, though the park does not take a full tally every day and has not confirmed the current number of baboons in the enclosure. Six Flags has also deployed a team comprising of a veterinarian, a safari manager, and security to respond to any reported sightings. The team was unable to find any sign of the baboon’s presence, like paw prints or tracks.
One tweeter suggests an alternative explanation: “#Baboon is loose in NJ. My boss is off today. #coincidence?”
New Jersey state laws include baboons among their “potentially dangerous species” list. But in the case that you do come across an actual baboon, take heart: Siebeneicher says that baboons are not aggressive and residents would not be in any danger. Still, she also says, do not approach.
UPDATE: July 2nd, 4:53 p.m.
The baboon has been caught:
Police officers from Howell and Great Adventure staff tranquilized the baboon around 2:40 p.m. today on a farm on Fairfield Road in Howell.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 1, 2011