The Little Rock Zoo

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Monkey Found in Home

Last updated at 5:13 PM on 26th August 2009

Normally the discovery of bird or a mouse in the living room is enough cause for excitement.

But when Colin Hinder went into his girlfriend Gemma Peck's front room, he found a marmoset monkey clinging to the curtain rail and watching TV.

He soon realised the furry intruder must have come from Woburn Safari Park, which is two miles from her home in Aspley Guise, near Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire.

Marmoset monkey escape

Escape: The tiny marmoset monkey was found hiding on the curtain rail in the Peck family's living room

Staff were contacted and admitted the primate - a female common marmoset called Kite - had escaped with another female called Ponty, a day earlier.

The intrepid pair are believed to have scaled an eight-foot high boundary wall, crossed a busy A-road, scampered across a field and headed down a steep hill into the village.

Kite then crept into the Peck family's back garden, shimmied up a drainpipe and clambered into the empty house through an open bedroom window on the first floor.

She has now been captured and returned to the safari park but Ponty remains on the run.

Mr Hinder, who graduated as an accountant this summer, described how he couldn't believe his eyes when he opened the door to the living room last Friday.

He went that-a-way: Gemma Peck points at the open window which the monkey climbed through

He went that-a-way: Gemma Peck points at the open window which the monkey climbed through

'Gemma was sitting on the sofa right beneath the curtain rail eating her breakfast when I saw something move up there,' he said.

'She has a phobia of pigeons so I told her to move quick. We looked back to work out what it was and even though I could see it was a monkey my brain just would not process it.

'It just sat there looking at us and blinking. The only time it moved was to get more comfortable.'

Miss Peck's mother, Jean, said she thought Mr Hinder was pulling her leg when he told her a primate had set up in her home.

'I got home two minutes after they found it. It was a tiny little thing, just a bit bigger than a squirrel with white fluffy ears and bright eyes,' she added.

'It was used to people and quite happy up there. Every time someone spoke it would turn its head to look and listen.

In the wild: A common marmoset (file picture)

In the wild: A common marmoset (file picture)

'The safari park arrived about half an hour later and took about ten minutes to entice him into a plastic cage.

'There's another one missing still. We heard some rustling in the trees over the weekend but it went all quiet last night.'

Miss Peck, 56, a part-time gardener, said Kite must have found her way into the house between 6pm and 9pm on Thursday evening last week while everyone was out.

She found a 'small puddle' underneath her bedroom window but blamed it on her toy poodle, Twink, who failed to alert the family to the intruder.

Miss Peck added: 'The monkey must have got downstairs while we were out too - which means it had been sitting up there on the curtain pole all evening watching TV but no one noticed.'

Marmosets are small primates native to the Atlantic rainforests of south east Brazil. They have lifespans of ten years and are classified as vulnerable by conservationists.

Dr Jake Veasey, head of conservation at 3,000-acre Woburn, which also keeps penguins, rhinos and big cats, said: 'These monkeys do not pose a risk to the public, and although they will defend themselves if approached, we regularly screen them for diseases potentially transferable to humans.

'Marmosets live on insects and Ponty was probably following these insects in the hedgerows and woodland around Woburn Safari Park when she got lost.

'Allowing the marmosets to range freely in the grounds of Woburn Safari Park is very much to the benefit of the marmosets and makes them a great thrill to our visitors.

'What's more, finding a marmoset outside the boundary of the park is unprecedented and Woburn Safari Park will be monitoring the group carefully for the next couple of weeks to understand why this happened.'

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