On Lake Wood Drive in Minerva Park, the conversation at the neighborhood bus stop has slightly changed.
“It has to be someone’s pet, don’t you think so?” Maureen Hemmelgarn said. “I mean, I don’t think it was just living out here.”
“It” refers to a Howler Monkey and “it” has neighbors talking and laughing.
The monkey was reportedly spotted by a Minerva Park police officer Thursday.
“Yes, just a few houses away,” Anita Pryjda said.
Pryjda says a monkey in her neighborhood is unheard of.
“We’re used to seeing deer, we’re used to seeing red fox, skunks and raccoons over at the lake and all kinds of ducks and geese,” she said. “I’ve even seen a turkey vulture in my neighbor’s yard. So, we’re used to seeing wildlife, but never monkeys.”
Minerva Park Police and the Department of Agriculture, equipped with a tranquilizer gun, canvassed the area Friday but despite looking in the tallest of trees and following up on reported sightings – no Howler Monkey.
“It’s fun,” Pryjda said. “Kind of weird but fun, too.”
The neighbors and even the local mailman were having a good time with the sightings. The local mailman made his routine stops, Friday, while wearing a gorilla mask.
But, it’s not all a joking matter.
“We’ve been told to keep little kids and animals in the house,” Pryjda said.
In a statement, the DOA says there are no permitted Howler Monkeys in Ohio, which means if it is a Howler Monkey in Minerva Park, it was illegally owned.
Pryjda says it’s probably why an owner hasn’t come forward.
“They don’t want to be caught now,” she said. “So, they’re not making themselves known.”
The DOA says searches for the monkey turned up nothing, Friday, and the search is believed to be over pending any future sightings.
Capitalizing on the moment, someone has started a Twitter account for the monkey: