Escaped monkey on the loose in Wicklow is 'looking for love'

By Stephen Porzio

January 2, 2024 at 3:34pm


The manager of the sanctuary has issued advice on what people should do if they encounter the animal, who is thought to be out 'looking for' young female monkeys.

A love-seeking capuchin monkey is on the loose after having escaped from a sanctuary in Wicklow earlier this week.

An ex-laboratory animal, Charlie - aged 24 - has been living for the past 22 years in Rathdrum at Monkey Sanctuary Ireland, the country's first and only sanctuary for unwanted primates.

Speaking about the monkey, the facility's manager Willie Heffernan told The Brendan O'Connor Show on Saturday:

“He arrived here 22 years ago. He was only two years old when he arrived. So, normally they all get spayed, all the males. He slipped the knife.

"So, there’s three old monkeys on the island next to him, females... He was harassing them so I tried to move him and this other male he was with on his island.

"I got one off and then when I went down to get him, he had jumped ship... Then, he never came back.

“So, I'm afraid he may have made it into Avondale. Then, there’s a whole forest stretching from Laragh down to Arklow, so he’s plenty of woodland to be in."

Heffernan explained that Charlie may think Wicklow is "full of young female monkeys", adding: "That's probably what he's out looking for."


Love-seeking monkey on the loose after escaping from Wicklow sanctuary

Asked whether the monkey could survive in the wild, the manager replied: "He's lived out on the island for 20 years and I’ve seen him catching grey squirrels and small birds and frogs so he’s able to get plenty of protein into him."

Heffernan also said that Charlie could travel, stating: "He’s young and he’s fit and he’s a great tree climber. He's unbelievable. He’s able to dive from one tree to the other through the air to move."

That said, the manager also said that he believes the monkey would not go near people as he has had very little human interaction in his life

"He’s not a pet. I’ve never petted him because they are all ex-laboratory animals," he told the radio programme.


"I’ll only put the food on the island by pulley... There’s very little human interaction. They just live amongst themselves."

Heffernan has advised members of the public that spot Charlie to contact him on 0833581276 or the local guards and to not approach the animal.

“I’ve got a tranquilising dart so I can easily get him and bring him home," the manager added.

This article originally appeared on JOE