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Truck Carrying 100 Monkeys To CDC Lab Crashes in Pennsylvania

Anyone who has used the expression “more fun than a Barrel of monkeys” has never had to wrangle a truckload of the wily primates after a crash!

Several monkeys scampered away from a crash scene in Pennsylvania, leading to a difficult search for the elusive creatures. It took almost two days after the crash till all of the monkeys could be rounded up, and the search for the wayward primates could come to an end.

A monkey climbing a tree along a Pennsylvania highway is just about the last thing you’d expect to see, especially in winter. But that’s exactly what happened in a wooded area near Danville where Route 54 meets Interstate 80 about 130 miles northeast of Philadelphia on the chilly night of Jan. 21.

The monkeys were in crates inside an enclosed trailer when Pennsylvania State Police say the truck driver turned in front of an oncoming dump truck.

“The next thing I know, the dump truck hits the trailer, and it spins around, and both of them crashed down into the trees,” Michele Fallon told local news WBRE/WYOU.

Fallon stopped and said a bystander said that there were cats were inside those crates.

“They had this like a green cloth over, so I peel it back, and I go to stick my finger in there to try to pet it, and it pops its head up, and I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s a monkey!’ So I was like, I’m shocked, I walk over to the guy, and I’m like, ‘They’re not cats, they’re monkeys.’ He goes, ‘They’re what?’ I’m like, ‘They’re monkeys!'” explained Fallon.

Not just any monkeys – there were 100 cynomolgus macaque monkeys from Africa headed to a lab in Missouri for testing. At one point, it was thought four monkeys had escaped, but it was actually three.

State police and the Pennsylvania Game Commission began an hours-long search after the crash.

Two monkeys were found Friday night and had to be put down, but one was still on the loose, according to a State Police tweet Saturday morning. By early Saturday evening, troopers indicated that the last one was located and recovered.

The entire ordeal caught the attention of people like TJ Steckley, who works at a nearby fast-food restaurant.

“Last night, I was just scrolling through my phone, and I saw people posting about it and thought it was pretty weird, and then my mom came in my room and asked me about it, asked me to help go look for the monkeys,” Steckley said.

This area is usually quiet, according to Steckley, and he still can’t believe what happened.

“Everyone’s talking about it pretty much; it’s the talk of the town now,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Fallon told WBRE/WYOU the CDC contacted her, saying that since the monkeys were not quarantined and monitored, she needs to take precautions because of the close contact she had with one of them in a crate.

State police did not disclose exactly when and how the last of the monkeys was located.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) released a statement Saturday encouraging the scientific community not to transport monkeys from other countries into the United States and to stop experimentation on them in laboratories. The statement read, in part:

“Importing monkeys and tormenting them in laboratories is likely to cause more human illness than experimenting on them will ever prevent.”

Fallon is thankful she is not experiencing any symptoms. But if she does, she was told she must notify the health department.