Chillicothe Police shoot monkey after cage escape; owner discusses long day with FOX 4

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CHILLICOTHE, Mo. – FOX 4 got the opportunity to speak with the owner of a monkey who managed to get loose on Friday. The white-faced Capuchin led Chillicothe police on a day-long chase, and for eight hours, the four-pound monkey commanded the town’s attention.

The animal`s owner, Billy Johnston, brought along another pet monkey when interviewed by FOX 4’s Katie Banks. The monkey he brought is similar in size to the five-year-old white-faced Capuchin named Buster, who broke out of his cage earlier on Friday.

Police say the monkey ran around town, at one point getting too close for comfort to a school. Officers worried Buster might bite a curious child if given the chance. They eventually cornered the monkey in a salvage yard, where Johnston tried five times to shoot him with tranquilizer darts, but missed.

Police then shot and killed the monkey, a difficult decision, but the right one in Johnston's eyes.

"And I don't want anything to happen to anybody, so finally I told the policemen they need to do their job and they really hated, they apologized to me and everything, but that's a sad outcome, you know?" Johnston said.

Police say Johnston lawfully raises and sells monkeys, which can go for up to $7,500 a piece. He has 10 others just like Buster and says he's likely to pay a fine to the USDA for Friday's mishap.

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  • Anne Jones

    SHAME ON YOU!!!!! Chilicothe PD!!!! SHAME ON YOU!!!!! Surely MORE patience and efforts to capture the primate should have been exercised. Was the breeder even on-site at the time of execution to try to retrieve this creature? Once the animal was located, was the owner even given the opportunity to affect the tragic outcome? Had anyone even thought to bring more darts???? Poor thing had been running loose ALL day! Plenty of time to obtain MORE DARTS, on the outside chance they might be needed when the animal would be encountered?! Good Grief! That is just a crying, over-reactionary SHAME! For the sake of public safety?…. Please GIVE ME A BREAK!!!! Just darn sad. Am doubting responders had any more sense than the now-dead monkey.

    • Anne Jones

      Yes…. After reading my post, I must admit I was harsh and I do apologize for my statements criticizing the responders to the monkey incident. Right after posting, I reconsidered my comments and tried to retract, but was unable to find on the site how to do so. I even called the station, but could reach nothing but after-hours voice mails, unfortunately.
      Yes, I wish the situation had ended differently, as do all those individuals involved, as well do too, I am sure. I tend to get quite emotional and passionately angry when the subject of harm to animals is involved and I posted my comment before I thought it through. Obviously, I was not involved in the situation and based my comment on purely what was in the media, and not from first-hand experience. There were a variety of circumstances most likely which led to this unfortunate event and the fault should not lie entirely on those who finalized the unfortunate solution. It is very sad all-the-way around.
      I wish to apologize for and recant any statement resulting in any offense I may have caused to those involved.

  • Jennifer Lynn Chadwick

    This is a heartbreaking story! I love monkeys and I think that it is a travesty that this had to end the way it did. That being said, I think that after all the facts and knowing that the monkey, while small, could have done harm to somebody, it was the right thing to do!

  • Ava

    The vanity of people attempting to make a “pet” of a wild animal baffles me. Even though these primates are bred in captivity, they are, by no means, domesticated. Primates are far too intelligent and social to withstand cages and the restrictions that human “ownership” entails. Please think twice before deciding to make a pet of any wild creature. It is cruel, and too often ends badly for animal and owner alike.

  • Vickie

    What happened is a total travesty all the way around. My heart breaks for the little monkey that was scared out of his mind. All involved acted responsibly. I do wish though that they had let others come in that were proficient in using a dart gun or better yet a blow gun! In regard to Ava’s comment, you obviously have never lived with or been around someone that lives with primates in the private sector. Not all owners treat the animals cruelly. Yes they are extremely intelligent. Some have homes that are better than a lot of people live in. The only thing that I agree with you is to think twice before getting one as it takes 24/7 to care for them.They learn and are as happy as you are willing to take the time to spend with them. They have to have a lot of enrichment and a lot of time as does a child. And contrary to your belief it is possible for them to be domesticated just like it was to domesticate many other animals that were wild when they started out. But only if you have the time and the means.

  • Chris Mote

    Should have shot the owner!!!! Fn dirtbag! You don’t need fines you need to be held accountable for brining a wild animal to the city and being irresponsible for its safety!

  • Paul Michael Reynolds

    The real tragedy is the keeping of primates as pets. This man and the trade he represents is incredibly cruel, monkeys are highly sociable creatures that require a natural environment and the company of their own kind. They do not survive well in the domestic environment so I would say the shot monkey was lucky the other one on the chain around its waist (a practice that physically harms the monkey incidentally) is the one which will suffer most!

  • mary beth first

    This was so uncalled for. Recently there were 2 Chimpanzees in K.C. that got loose from the zoo. There capture was safely done. What kind
    of stupid people do we have here? I think this could have done in a much better way to have saved this monkey. Come on it was a small monkey. No need for a gun. COPD’s are gun happy and they need taught more on & about safety. They could have through a net, another person like the gun happy COP should have shot the dart gun. Where there is a will there is a way. I am an avid animal lover and the gun would have been my last decision. The monkey had been on the run and was scared to death. People need to learn more about safety than shooting guns. It is sad that this monkey was shot. It should still be alive.