Danville, PA – Police and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a massive search in rural Pennsylvania over the weekend after several monkeys bound for a laboratory escaped during transport.
At least 100 live primates arrived at Kennedy Airport from Mauritius in the early morning hours of Jan. 21, NBC News reported.
The monkeys, which were packed inside crates, were then loaded onto a trailer to be hauled to a CDC-approved quarantine laboratory.
The location of the laboratory was not released, NBC News reported.
The pickup truck hauling the trailer was traveling along Interstate 80 through a rural area of Montour County when the crash occurred, according to the Associated Press.
The driver exited at Danville and immediately tried to get back onto the interstate, driving across the other lane, and was struck on the passenger side by a dump truck, a witness said.
The collision tore off the trailer’s front panel and sent over a dozen crates tumbling out onto the roadway, the Associated Press reported.
Witness Michelle Fallon said she talked with the two occupants in the pickup truck after the wreck.
Fallon said the passenger believed his legs were injured and that the driver seemed to be disoriented, the Associated Press reported.
The passenger was ultimately transported to a medical center with minor injuries, according to USA Today.
It is unclear whether or not any citations were issued.
Fallon said she later looked into one of the crates and saw a monkey inside looking back at her.
The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) began securing and searching the area at the instruction of the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health after it was determined that three monkeys had escaped during the wreck, NBC News reported.
Temperatures dropped into the single digits Friday night as first responders and helicopters used thermal imaging to try to locate the primates, according to the Associated Press.
Two were recovered by morning, but one cynomolgus macaque remained missing.
MONKEYS ON THE LOOSE: Right now Pennsylvania State Police and Game Wardens are searching the woods for 4 lab monkeys that escaped from a truck after a crash off of I-80 near the Danville exit. Search has focused on one tree for the last 15 minutes. @WNEP pic.twitter.com/986nwBn4xA
— Marshall Keely (@MKeelyNews) January 22, 2022
“There is still one monkey unaccounted for, but we are asking that no one attempt to look for or capture the animal,” the PSP tweeted that morning. “Anyone who sees or locates the monkey is asked not to approach, attempt to catch, or come in contact with the monkey. Please call 911 immediately.”
CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund confirmed Saturday evening that the last missing monkey was accounted for, USA Today reported.
Three of the monkeys were humanely euthanized after the incident for undisclosed reasons, according to Nordlund.