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TR 45 - MONKEY BUSINESS: Comparing Truth & Fiction

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TR 45 - MONKEY BUSINESS: Comparing Truth & Fiction

Examining the case of some exotic experimental monkeys escaping into the countryside.

The truth is stranger than fiction.

At least that's we're told. From another angle, it is fascinating how fiction so often foreshadows real-world events. Take, for example, the 1995 box-office hit "Outbreak" — a story about how a monkey smuggler accidentally spreads a nasty new viral disease from the African jungle, into a plush coastal California community. It's a great story line, that plants the fear of an unknown deadly virus deep in the public psyche.

It's worth a watch, but we're not here to do a movie review. Instead, let me point out a few headlines that relate:

  • The CDC was expecting a shipment of 100 monkeys from the South African island nation Mauritius. However, the truck and trailer that was hauling the monkeys wrecked somewhere in rural Pennsylvania — while heading to an undisclosed CDC facility, for an undisclosed purpose.

  • Multiple monkeys escaped from wreckage, prompting a mad scrambled by authorities to locate the missing primates. But, before police could respond, a few friendly locals got out and tried to help the driver — only to encounter at least one very pissed-off and hissing monkey.

  • By the next day, authorities had found all the monkeys, euthanizing three of them, which really pissed-off PETA, who was concern that the animals had to endure bitter cold without proper shelter, and were never given the appropriate veterinary care.

  • As these were experimental monkeys — very sophisticate lab rats, used for toxicology studies — it was unknown whether the animals were carrying any exotic diseases. With feces flung all over the road, and monkeys on the loose, the CDC worked with the Pennsylvania Health Department to quarantine the scene.


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