Ricky the elusive Capuchin monkey had many Alberton residents worried after he somehow escaped from his home in Randhart on May 3, reports Alberton Record.
His owner, Caila de Ru, immediately sent out a message saying: “If anyone sees this monkey in the Randhart area close to Alberton High, please contact me immediately. It’s my baby. His name is Ricky, he is terrified and it’s the first time he ran from home.”
The post trended on social media, and many people jumped in to help search for Ricky.
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Jane Kotze from AfriForum Alberton said they received a video of Ricky running in the streets of Raceview on one of their community groups and she immediately contacted the Wildlife Conservation, who put her in contact with Jaime Silva, a qualified monkey rescuer from Pretoria.
She then notified their community groups about a different WhatsApp group dedicated to the search of Ricky.
“Within minutes, over 40 people contacted me, asking how they could assist,” Jane said.
Later that same day, Ricky was heard in the large trees in Sarah Crescent, Randhart. Volunteers concluded the search at about 8.30pm as they could not see Ricky anymore.
The search continued throughout May 4, but Ricky continued to evade capture.
On the morning of May 5, Ricky was spotted again.
“Kerry-Leigh van der Merwe, a resident and monkey owner as well, requested assistance and many people came to her aid,” said Jane.
“Ricky was afraid of everyone and they struggled to corner him. Nadia Mota, a volunteer and Alberton resident, then sent multiple updates on the group and, with the help of many eyes and ears, he was finally seen running into a residential garage at about 10.37am, where he was safely captured.”
“A number of community members came together to bring Ricky to safety,” said Nadia. Nadia was one of the people who searched from Friday to Sunday and according to her, she was just glad they managed to capture Ricky.
“Thank you to Kerry-Lee van der Merwe, Francois van der Merwe, Melanie van der Merwe, David Rae, Johan Botha, and Jaime for helping to search for Ricky from the beginning to the end,” said Nadia.
When Ricky was handed back to his owners, he was tired, hungry and had a small scar on his face, but otherwise unharmed.
“He is doing great and went fishing with my dad this past weekend,” said Caila.
More about the Capuchin breed
• The Capuchin monkey (genus Cebus), also called sapajou, is a common Central and South American primate found in tropical forests from Nicaragua to Paraguay. Capuchins, considered among the most intelligent of the New World monkeys, are named for their “caps” of hair, which resemble the cowls of Capuchin monks.
• These monkeys are round-headed and stockily built, with fully haired prehensile tails and opposable thumbs. The body is 30-55cm long, with a tail of about the same length. Colouration ranges from pale to dark brown or black, with white facial markings in some of the four species.
• They are omnivores, so they have a varied diet, including fruit, flowers, insects, nuts, some small vertebrates and even small birds. At a zoo, they enjoy apples, carrots, oranges and a special food called Monkey Chow for added nutrition.
• In captivity, Capuchin monkeys are easily trained and have been popularly associated with roving performers, such as organ grinders.