CIRCLEVILLE - What sounded like a joke at first may not have been 'monkey business' on Wednesday as officials fielded calls about a stray monkey spotted on state Route 104 near Ashville.
Marc Rogols, chief dog warden at the Wright-Poling Pickaway County Dog Shelter, said the shelter received two calls about the animal sighted on Route 104 near West Ford Road.
"On the first call, the woman said she was stopped at the stop sign at the intersection, and a monkey crossed the road right in front of her," Rogols said. "She said it was gray with a white face and looked right at her."
Shelter staff took a look around the area, he said, but could find no evidence of a monkey. But with two calls about the animal to the shelter, he decided to do some more digging.
Rogols said he discovered an Internet posting of two Capuchin monkeys for sale in the Ashville area, and the photo matched the description given in the reports.
"I can't say there's actually a monkey loose out there, but I can't definitively say there's not, either," Rogols said. "After seeing that Internet posting from the same area, I have to say it's possible."
Rogols said he tried to contact the person who posted the monkeys for sale, but they have not yet responded to his messages. The listing now appears to have been removed.
Sheriff Robert Radcliff said deputies were dispatched to the area Wednesday afternoon after the dog shelter notified them of the reports, but his staff received no direct reports of the sighting. Deputies also were unable to locate any sign of the animal.
Some species of monkeys are required to be registered on the Dangerous Wild Animal Registry through the Ohio Department of Agriculture, but Capuchin monkeys are exempt from that list.
A spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Agriculture said they show no monkeys of any kind registered in Pickaway County.
Rogols said he personally is not familiar with monkeys or their care, but his staff responded to the reports just as they would any other report of a stray animal in the county.