Man’s thumb nearly bitten off after giving escaped monkeys an egg sandwich

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Currituck County, N.C. - Ricky Strong had four monkeys pounce on him, and one of them nearly bit off his thumb.

"I had to hit 'em and fight them off me and I went to run and get away and I actually face planted into that tree. And then I ran out of here bleeding running all the way down here and two of them come chase me running me all the way to my house."

The monkeys got loose midday Thursday from a Wedgewood shed.

Strong's hand is now in a cast, his shirt has claw marks in it, and his jeans are stained with his own blood.

And this all started because he gave one of the escaped monkeys an egg sandwich.

"He actually came to me and walked up my arm,” Strong explained.

Strong walked with the monkey back to the shed where the other three primates were.

Strong was about to leave and then a cat showed up.

"And when it did, the one monkey threw like a toolbox at the cat,” says Strong.

Then a dog got on a deck and started barking and all four of the monkeys jumped on Strong.

"So when you're being chased by monkeys down the driveway what are you thinking?" asked NewsChannel 3’s Reed Andrews.

"Not good. I got to get the hell out of here,” says Strong.

Strong escaped and now has a heavily bandaged left thumb.

"Bout ripped it off,” Strong says.

The monkeys' owner is Richard Shifflett.

Two of his monkeys were easily taken in by animal control, two more were tranquilized, one didn't survive.

"The one little monkey got shot right in the heart with a tranquilizer so it died instantly, but other than that, it's just monkeys got loose you know,” says Shifflett.

A dazed monkey was on its way to animal control Thursday afternoon.

Shifflett isn't facing any charges despite his four monkeys escaping from their cages, jumping on a neighbor and then biting his thumb.


  • Nedim Buyukmihci

    I am a veterinarian with many years of experience with non-human primates. Monkeys do not belong in captivity, particularly in private homes. As the man in the article experienced, monkeys can become a great danger to people as they become sexually mature and become aggressive and cause serious injuries. As a result, they are often killed even though it is human selfishness and self-indulgence that caused the problem in the first place. All the ex-‘pet’ primates at the Sanctuary I managed came there because they attacked people, often their ‘owners,’ sometimes causing injuries requiring hospitalization. Even if the animals are not killed, their situation is tragic because they are deprived of a normal life. Non-human primates are highly social animals who should be in their native habitat, in social groups of dozens of individuals, living and doing things naturally. Keeping them in a human environment and raising them as if they were human children is cruel and leads to severe psychological problems, stress and distress. Regardless of how good are the intentions of the human guardian, no matter how good the care he or she provides, no matter how much ‘love’ they may bestow on them, these individuals are still wild and will continue to have the instincts and behavioral needs that cannot in any meaningful way be satisfied by human beings. If someone truly cares about these animals and wants to do the right thing by them, they should resist the temptation to keep them in captivity. And, if there are any legislators reading this, please pass legislation prohibiting the keeping of non-human primates (or any wildlife) as ‘pets.’ Nedim C. Buyukmihci, V.M.D. Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine, University of California

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