The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fire Kills 3 Babe Monkeys and Cat Belonging to a Private Owner, Mona Lisa Laucomer


Special to The Hays Daily News

RUSSELL -- When Mona Lisa Laucomer was awakened by the smell of smoke, her first thought was to save her monkeys.

Laucomer and her husband, Ken, own 33 Japanese snow monkeys and java monkeys housed in a compound and barn near the Prime 8 Inn, a motel the couple own in Russell.

A fire that broke out about 2:30 a.m. Thursday destroyed the main office and living area of the motel and damaged several adjoining units.

By the time the fire was contained about four hours later, three baby monkeys and a cat in the couple's room had died.

Laucomer said she and her mother, who lives with the couple, got away unharmed. Ken Laucomer was taken to Hays Medical Center with second-degree burns on his back and feet. He remained hospitalized late Thursday afternoon.

The hospital could not release any information about Laucomer's condition.

"We were lucky to save ourselves," Mona said. "But we lost three monkeys and a cat, and two of my cats are still missing."

Most of the couple's monkeys were housed at the compound, a safe distance from the fire.

"The smoke was not going in that direction, thank God," she said. "The only ones that died were the ones in the room with us."

Several rural fire districts in the area were called in to help extinguish the blaze, which started in the couple's bedroom area and probably was electrical in origin, said Don Boxberger, rural fire chief for the Russell-Grant Fire Department.

He didn't have an estimate of the damage.

"We're still doing an investigation," he said. "But we think it started with the TV or other electrical item."

A team from the North Central Kansas Chapter of the American Red Cross in Salina offered assistance to firefighters battling the blaze and basic necessities to the Laucomers. The family is staying in Russell.

Mona Laucomer said she has owned monkeys for 17 years and once was a broker and breeder of monkeys while living in Arizona. When she and Ken, a truck driver, relocated to Russell eight years ago, she brought many of the monkeys with her.

Since then, she has rescued several monkeys from other owners around the country who could no longer keep them.

"If there was a home better than what I can provide, I would give some away," she said.

The Japanese snow monkeys are golden in color with bright red faces and short tails, Mona said. Her biggest is about 42 pounds and is called Big Red. The java monkeys have more of a yellow-green or reddish-brown tint.

"They're beautiful," she said. "But they're not pets. You can't leave them alone for long, so I don't get to take vacations. They take your life over."

Mona said she and Ken have no insurance on the motel but still hope to rebuild. A fund has been established for the couple at the Russell Sunflower Bank, 740 N. Main.

"I love it here, and I'm not leaving," she said.


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