CINCINNATI — At least two 911 calls reported monkeys were on the loose in a cemetery overnight, but as of Thursday afternoon police had not yet found them.
The report may have been misinformation, but Cincinnati police Sgt. Jacob Hicks said Thursday morning they were taking it seriously. No officers have reported seeing the monkeys in St. Joseph Cemetery.
Stephen Bittner, president of Cincinnati Catholic Cemetery Society, which owns the cemetery, said he checked security cameras but saw no activity.
The cemetery does have a flock of wild turkeys, he added.
“Wild turkeys nest in trees,” he said. “So the question is, ‘were they nesting in the trees,’ because whoever filmed and put (the video) on social media, it was (seen) through the power lines because you can see the power lines in the video.”
The video circulating on Facebook shows three dark bodies in the trees, but it’s too dark to tell what they were.
Bruce VanHook, who manages the cemetery, was there at 6:30 a.m.
“Between him and I, we have patrolled for probably the last two hours and we cannot see anything that is similar to a monkey,” Bittner said.
The cemetery property borders privately owned woods that stretch about a half of a mile away, he said.
At least two calls were made late Wednesday to Cincinnati police about the reported monkeys, but dispatchers were not able to make further contact with the callers, police said.
Officers first responded to the city’s West Side around 10 p.m. Wednesday after residents reported seeing the monkeys swinging from trees at St. Joseph Cemetery, according to Fox 19.
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden spokeswoman Michelle Curley told The Enquirer, part of the USA TODAY Network, that the zoo was prepared to respond if needed.
“We are evaluating the situation to see if there’s anything we can do to assist the Cincinnati Police Department,” Curley said.
Police said no one claiming to own monkeys has made a report. Earlier, FOX19 said police believed the monkeys may have escaped from a home.
Ohio’s exotic-animal law enacted in 2012 banned private owners from acquiring, selling and breeding restricted species in Ohio, according to the Columbus Dispatch, part of the USA TODAY Network.
The restricted list includes lions, tigers, bears, elephants certain monkeys, rhinos, alligators, crocodiles, anacondas and pythons longer than 12 feet, certain vipers and all venomous snakes.
Owners who have registered the animals they have – and met caging and care standards set out in the law – can keep their animals as long as they live. But they can’t buy new ones or breed those they have.
Ohioans are allowed to own marmosets, capuchins, lemurs, and squirrel monkeys, according to the Department of Agriculture. Other species are considered dangerous wild animals in Ohio.