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Media Article # 547
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Article prepared and posted by David Wright

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Baker Sightings Have Residents Talking Bigfoot

By Adam Aasen
Florida Times Union

'Orangutan' every which way but loose in Baker

By ADAM AASEN, The Times-Union

An orangutan sighting has Baker County residents going ape and now Fish and Wildlife officials are hoping to lure the animal out the trees using a secret weapon: doughnuts.

Although the Florida Department of Fish and Wildlife can't confirm it was an ape, some people reported seeing a "big orange ball of fur," said Karen Parker, Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman.

Some think it's just a spider monkey or a squirrel. Others are seriously investigating whether it was a "baby Bigfoot."

One thing is for sure, the animal is still on the loose and it apparently has a hunger for jelly doughnuts.

On Oct. 30, Fish and Wildlife investigator Ken Holmes said he got a call about the animal stealing the sweet snacks from a bear hunter who lives near Macclenny. Holmes looked into the tall pine tree and saw something moving around, but couldn't confirm if it was an ape, squirrel, monkey, raccoon or even a cat.

So Holmes decided to lay doughnuts at the base of the tree to lure the creature out. The animal left, but wasn't seen or captured.

Early this month Baker County Animal Control received a report of two men seeing an ape in a tree off Harry Rewis Road in Macclenny, Parker said. An animal control officer also confirmed seeing an orange-colored ape sitting in a tree, she said.

On Wednesday, Holmes received a call from a Bigfoot research group asking about the animal. The researcher said there are reports of juvenile Bigfoots in Florida. Holmes said he answered all of his questions but "almost wanted to correct him that the proper term in Florida is 'skunk apes.' "

"I can't confirm that it wasn't Bigfoot," he said. "That's one possibility. It's just not a possibility I'm exploring."

Holmes said he isn't even sure it was an ape in the tree because there are orange-colored spider monkeys. He said it's illegal to own an orangutan in Florida without a commercial permit, and nobody in the area is registered to have one. The closest zoo is in Jacksonville and no animals have been reported missing.

If he finds the animal, Holmes said it would not be killed, but tranquilized and captured until an appropriate home can be decided for it. He said there is no danger to residents.

This isn't the first time Holmes has gone monkey hunting in Florida. Last year he said he captured a patas monkey, a fast, slender animal known as the "greyhound of monkeys."

Holmes said as he tried to grab the monkey, the patas drop-kicked him twice without warning. He was able to calm the animal using his old fallback - food.

"Luckily I had a fruit salad packed for lunch, trying to be healthy," he said. "The monkey took some grapes and he was fine."

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