DANVILLE, Pa. (AP) – The last of the escaped monkeys from the crash of a truck towing a trailer load of 100 of the animals was accounted for late Saturday, a day after the pickup collided with a dumper on a highway in Pennsylvania, authorities said.
Several monkeys had fled after Friday’s collision, Pennsylvania State Police said. But only one had remained undisclosed from Saturday morning, prompting the Pennsylvania Game Commission and other agencies to launch a search for it in the midst of cold weather.
Kristen Nordlund, a spokeswoman for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an email Saturday night that all 100 cynomolgus macaques had since been accounted for. Three had died after being killed.
The email did not elaborate on why the three were killed or how they were all accounted for. But Nordlund said the killings were made so humane according to American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines.
The shipment of monkeys was on its way to a CDC-approved quarantine facility after arriving Friday morning at New York’s Kennedy Airport from Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, police said. The Atlanta-based CDC said the agency provided “technical assistance” to Pennsylvania state police.
The collision took place Friday on a state road near an Interstate 80 exit in Pennsylvania’s Montour County, trooper Andrea Pelachick told The Daily Item newspaper from Sunbury.
The location of the quarantine facility and the type of research that the monkeys were apparently intended for was not clear, but cynomolgus monkeys are often used in medical studies. A 2015 paper published on the website of the National Center for Biotechnology Information referred to them as the most prevalent primate in preclinical toxicological studies.
Earlier, police had previously urged people not to look for or catch any monkey, with soldiers tweeting: “Anyone who sees or locates the monkey is asked not to approach, attempt to catch or come in contact with the monkey. Call please 911 immediately. “
Trooper Lauren Lesher had said the concern was “it was not a domestic animal and that they were in an unknown territory. It is difficult to say how they would react to a human approaching them.”
Lesher said state police secured the site for the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the CDC.
The drivers of the trucks were not injured and a passenger was transported to a medical center for treatment of suspected minor injuries, according to the state police accident report.
A crash witness, Michelle Fallon, told the Press Enterprise newspaper in Bloomsburg that she was talking to the pickup driver and a passenger after the accident. The driver appeared to be disoriented and the passenger thought he might have injured his legs, she said.
Boxes filled the road Friday as troops searched for monkeys with rifles in hand. Valley Township firefighters used thermal imaging to try to locate the animals, and a helicopter also helped, the Bloomsburg newspaper Press Enterprise reported.
The pickup was heading west on I-80 as it got off at the Danville exit and then immediately attempted to get on again and drive over the other lane, the newspaper reported.
Fallon told Press Enterprise she was behind the pickup when it was hit on the passenger side of the dumper, tearing off the front panel of the trailer and more than a dozen boxes overturned.
She and another motorist who stopped to help were standing near the scene when the other driver said he thought he saw a cat running across the road, Fallon said.
Fallon looked into a box and saw a little monkey looking back at her, she told the newspaper.
“They are monkeys,” she told the other motorist.
This story directs the first name of a state soldier to Lauren, not Laura, Lesher.
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