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updated: 6/3/2013 3:43 PM

Pet monkey bites boy during event

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Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- A southwestern Illinois woman's dog and monkey apparently are fast friends, so much so that the primate takes umbrage to anyone getting too close to the pooch, authorities say.

A 6-year-old boy apparently learned that the hard way.

Authorities in Illinois' Madison County said the child escaped serious injury Sunday when the tiny primate named Nina chomped on one of the boy's forearms when he tried to pet the primate's companion dog during a yearly "Bark in the Park" event in Godfrey, a village northeast of St. Louis.

The boy was treated at a hospital for slight injuries consisting of bite marks and scratches, and the county's animal-control officials are investigating. Madison County Sheriff's Capt. Mike Dixon called the matter "unusual, for sure."

The woman brought both leashed pets to the dog festival, but the monkey -- a Java macaque -- "apparently is somewhat possessive of the dog," Dixon said.

Dixon said no citations or charges had been lodged as of Monday against the Alton woman, who told authorities the monkey is up to date on its rabies vaccinations.

The monkey's size wasn't available Monday, though such exotic animals also known as crab-eating macaques can grow to as long as two feet and weigh 20 pounds.

Having never dealt with a case involving a monkey biting a human, the county's animal-control office found itself in uncharted territory Monday about such things as how long to keep the animal in quarantine, that agency's Dr. David Hall said. That agency was seeking advice from the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Hall said.

"We want to do the right thing, but we don't yet what the right thing is. Right now, we're seeking guidance," Hall said as the monkey for now remained in the custody of a person -- not the animal's owner -- licensed to do the quarantining.

The names of the monkey's owner and the boy were not released.

Rick French, the animal-control officer in 18,000-resident Godfrey, said local ordinances demand that dogs and cats brought out in public must be leashed, though there's nothing specifically on the books about monkeys.

"I've been doing this for 20-some years, and this is the first time I've dealt with anything like this," he told The Associated Press. "I've never gotten so many calls from the media, but I don't get off on the attention."

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