Page last updated at 17:22 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 18:22 UK

Police warning after monkey escapes from Cumbrian zoo

Capuchin (generic)
Capuchin monkeys are native to the Amazon basin

A search is under way after a South American monkey escaped from a wild animal park in Cumbria.

The small beige Capuchin went missing from his enclosure at the South Lakes Wild Animal Park in Dalton.

Staff from the centre, which is home to dozens of exotic animals, called in police to help in the search operation.

Capuchins are native to the Amazon basin, about 20ins (51cm) high and recognisable by a distinctive black or dark brown head with dark sideburns.

Distracting drivers

Karen Brewer from the zoo said it was unclear how the monkey had got out of its enclosure.

She added: "It's only a small monkey so it is not going to hurt anybody or anything like that.

"It will be really scared and just wanting to get back home.

"So we would appeal to anyone who comes across it to contact us or the police."

A Cumbria Police spokesman said: "If it is seen crossing the road it will obviously distract drivers and could cause crashes.

"Staff from the wildlife park are currently searching the area for the monkey and would like to stress that although it is not thought to be a danger to the public, it should not be approached."

Capuchin monkeys are tree-dwelling and known to use tools such as stones to crack open nuts, shellfish and crabs.

Their ability to be easily trained gave rise to their early exploitation as organ grinder monkeys.

They were named by explorers after their resemblance to an order of Catholic friars, the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin.

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