Local News

Maine residents report seeing a monkey roaming downtown Portland

No photos have surfaced, but some believe the mystery creature to be a rhesus macaque.

Rhesus macaques are commonly used in biomedical research. Bryan Tarnowski/The New York Times

Maine is home to a vast amount of charismatic wildlife, from moose to bears to bald eagles. But Portland residents got a surprise this week when they reportedly spotted a monkey roaming the streets. 

Multiple people reported seeing the animal on Monday and Wednesday near Tandem Coffee + Bakery on Congress Street, according to NECN. An eyewitness who worked at the coffee shop told the station that she saw the monkey as she closed up the business this week. It appeared “mangy,” and was sitting on a dumpster. 


Anna McMurchy, another resident, made a post on Facebook detailing her experience. She was driving a friend to a bus station on Monday when a small creature ran across the road in front of her car, McMurchy wrote. After initially thinking it was a squirrel, McMurchy got closer and saw “round head, funny ears, and a little skinny tail.”


The animal disappeared too quickly for McMurchy to get a photo, but she believes it to be a baby rhesus macaque. This species is frequently used in biomedical research due to the fact that it’s closely related to humans and is easy to rear in captivity, according to the scientific journal Nature

So far, there has been no photographic evidence of the rogue primate, The Bangor Daily News reported, but McMurchy’s post elicited other anecdotes of potential monkey sightings in the same area. 

Owning a monkey is against Maine law unless one is an exhibitor or a researcher, Maine state officials told NECN. Both would require a permit to bring the monkey into the state.


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