A lab monkey escaped from the lab! Scientists searched for hours, but now they’re tired and calling off the search. I hope they weren’t testing anything radioactive… Details after the jump.
Emma Rabid

Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center announced it has ended efforts to locate the animal. Known only as “EP13,” the 2-year-old rhesus macaque was discovered missing on June 15.

“Despite extensive efforts by Yerkes staff, we have not been able to locate this research animal,” Dr. Stuart Zola, director of Yerkes, said in a prepared statement issued last week.

“Efforts included searching the Yerkes property numerous times, conducting multiple census counts of the research animals and working with Gwinnett County Animal Control to follow up on 26 reported ‘sightings’ in the metro Atlanta area,” Zola said.
Zola said he has directed Yerkes staff to continue taking steps to prevent any such future occurrences, including using microchip technology to better track the animals and increasing security and video surveillance at the center.

The center will also pursue any recommendations regulatory authorities may make, he said. Earlier this summer, Yerkes officials met with representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to discuss steps they had taken in the search.

With the search ended, “we are focusing on our research operations at the center and doing things to ensure this would not happen again,” Lisa Newbern, a Yerkes spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview Monday.

If someone should see the monkey, she said, “people are still welcome to give us a call at 404 727-7732, or Gwinnett County Animal Control, 770 339-3200.”

It was hoped that Ep13 could be in or around the 117-acre Primate Research Center, but repeated searches proved fruitless.

Searchers had speculated the monkey fled into the nearby woods, possibly finding shelter in the surrounding Gwinnett suburbs or even going farther, venturing far outside of metro Atlanta. Yerkes has taken calls from people in other counties claiming to have seen her.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on July 5 cited a Georgia Department of Natural Resources report that Yerkes waited five days before notifying authorities of the missing monkey.

The DNR report showed that after identifying that the monkey was missing on June 15, Yerkes staff started an immediate search of its grounds and on June 17 filed an incident report to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, the oversight body for university animal testing.

Yerkes contacted the U.S. Department of Agriculture three days later, on June 20, and then the DNR on June 22. The last time Yerkes had conducted a full head count of the monkeys was May 26, when the group was being transported within the facility.

The report also said that five days into the search, a Yerkes veterinarian believed the primate might be deceased. The veterinarian speculated the missing monkey had fallen into a crevice and died, or that a hawk had captured it.

Meanwhile, about 20 area residents filed a complaint with Lawrenceville and Gwinnett authorities against the primate research center, saying it did not belong in a residential area because of the threat escaped animals could pose to neighbors.

Operated by Emory University, Yerkes is one of eight federally funded national primate research centers. It keeps a total of about 3,400 primates at a 25-acre campus in Atlanta and the 117-acre field station in Lawrenceville. The field station, which opened in 1966, is home to 1,899 rhesus macaques and 2,220 animals overall.