Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The summer of exotic animals (1987)

The summer of 1987 saw several tales of 'alien animals' in Bucks County, just north of Philadelphia.

A monkey was seen on July 15 in a cornfield along State Road in the area of Cutoff Road. A motorist driving the road said that a monkey "with an armful of sweet corn" ran across the road and into a wooded area. Police questioned farmers as to sightings of the monkey, but none had made any - unless it was the troublesome primate which had stolen no less than four rows of corn from one field.

(It should be noted that another erratic ape - the so-called "Monk" - seen in Latrobe in 1945 had a similar hankering for corn.)

But by Wednesday of that week, the monkey had moved on and was reported from the part of the township nearest the Lehigh County border. Shortly after ten o'clock that morning, the monkey had crossed the border into Coopersburg, Lehigh County where it was seen a few times scampering along on people's porches and splashing through swimming pools.

This monkey, though, was only "aping" a previously made sighting. On July 6, another monkey - this one a rhesus - was seen in East Rockhill Township in the area of Old Bethlehem Pike and Rich Hill Road. But while it might be tempting to speculate that the East Rockhill and Springfield monkeys were the same, such was apparently not the case as sightings of both were made on the same day. Most likely these monkeys were escapees from animal testing outfits (the Buckshire Corporation, which is involved in animal testing, is located in nearby Dublin and a monkey which roamed the area in 1984 was an escapee from Buckshire).

On about July 16, a two-foot long iguana was captured hiding in a bush in Doylestown. However, it was discovered that the reptile was one which had escaped from its owner on July 9.

Only two days after the saga of the Bucks/Lehigh monkey began, on July 17, two policemen in Nockamixon Township reported seeing a panther. Police later received many other reports of the large feline. A local store jokingly put a $100 bounty on the head of the cat, but that was later retracted after complaints from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

On the same day that the monkey crossed into Lehigh, officials from the Philadelphia Zoo declared that the tracks of the "panther," which had been recovered, were merely those of a large dog. However, they were careful not to discount the possibility of some sort of large cat frequenting the area. The area is favorably close to where Tunis Brady shot his cat.

The next day, police in Bedminster Township reported that "People just called in... to say they saw a 24-inch long bobcat or panther. The people approached the animal. It let them get close and then scurried away."

Even the size of this one tallies well with a smallish bobcat or domestic cat. As many folks have shown time and time again, a large domestic cat is all that many reported "panthers" turn out to be.

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