'Happy Ending': Escaped Monkey Back Home
After a week that can only be described as bananas, things are returning to normal at the Baxley home in Southern Pines.
Toby, the family’s pet rhesus monkey, is recovering at home after he was found this weekend less than a quarter of a mile from his home. The monkey caused quite a stir in Moore County and beyond when he escaped from his home on Jan. 2.
“This was a happy ending,” said Connie Baxley, Toby’s owner. “Everybody has been so wonderful.”
Physically, Toby suffered a broken finger and some scratches. Emotionally, Toby was affected by the ordeal, Baxley said.
“The vet said he was traumatized,” Baxley said.
Toby’s run in the wild ended Saturday morning when he was found on the porch of a home on Valleyfield just outside the Southern Pines town limits.
Baxley received a call from the Moore County Sheriff’s Office that a woman had called authorities to report the monkey was on the porch of her home. That woman, Katherine Stafford, had been sitting at her kitchen table reading the paper when her cat, Fuzzy, began acting strangely.
“She was looking at the dining room door and twitching her tail something fierce,” Stafford said.
As Stafford investigated, she heard a “cooing sound,” and thought she had a bird in the house.
“I repeated the sound, and it answered me,” Stafford said.
Eventually she spied the animal on the porch and called 911 about 9 a.m.
“When I saw the story about the monkey on the news earlier in the week, I thought, I’ll never see that monkey,” she said. “I guess I was wrong.”
Baxley and other members of the search party drove to the Stafford home and found Toby sitting on the porch playing with a stick.
“When we saw him, he ran down off the porch like he was nervous,” Baxley said. “He acted like he didn’t know where to go.”
To capture him, Baxley placed Toby’s blanket on the ground along with a banana and bottle. Toby ran to the blanket, she said, and they scooped him up.
In addition to his injuries, a check by a local vet on Saturday revealed Toby’s weight had also dropped by about a pound. He also suffered some chafing from his diaper, which had remained on during his entire ordeal.
“He was in better condition than I thought he’d be,” said Baxley, whose biggest fear was how well Toby would fare when temperatures dipped into the 20s during two of the nights he was outdoors.
She also worried about how good Toby’s survival skills would be.
“With him always having been a pet, we weren’t sure how he’d be able to survive,” she said. “We didn’t know if he would eat the right things.”
For the first few days after his return home, Toby was on a steady diet that included Pedialyte, a rehydration formula often given to children.
Baxley said Toby will go back to an exotic animal vet next week for another checkup. She said she is grateful for all the community support, especially those who left food and blankets outside their homes, and turned lights on at their homes.
Toby’s escape became news across the state. Baxley and her husband, Ray, did countless interviews with print, television and radio outlets from Moore County, Fayetteville and Raleigh.
The monkey was able to remove his collar, open a door and then run outside when the Baxleys opened the front door to their home not knowing Toby had gotten out of his room.
Once outside, Toby climbed over a wall and ran after he was scared by a firetruck driving up and down the street, Baxley said.
Searchers walked through the woods with flashlights, sometimes even playing recorded sounds of a rhesus monkey in hopes of luring Toby out into the open. Search dogs joined the effort at midweek, as did Toby’s former owner, Terri Holt, who came down from Indiana to help find Toby.
Sporadic, unconfirmed reports of sightings continued through the week, until tracks were discovered late Friday.
Thought to be less than eight hours old and believed to belong to Toby, the tracks renewed hope in the search for the 2-year-old monkey, which was wearing a diaper when it escaped from the Baxleys’ home on East Connecticut Avenue.
Just before Toby was found, Baxley said she was contacted by a woman in Fayetteville who volunteered to bring her monkey down to help search for Toby.
“She was thinking maybe it could make some monkey calls that Toby would recognize,” Baxley said.
Contact Tom Embrey at email@example.com.
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