If your neighbor’s pet monkey was being loud or getting into mischief, there was not much the Dallas police could do. After all, it was completely legal back in the day to own a pet monkey (it’s illegal now).
But just because it was legal doesn’t mean it didn’t get weird. There is a surprising amount of monkey-related shenanigans in our archives. We’ve rounded up our favorite headlines for you below.
1. “Pet shop burglar finds crime monkey-business” — April 4, 1976
A Garland man got arrested for burglary because he kept hanging out in Dallas bars with Deena the chimpanzee. While this sounds fun, if he wanted to get away with kidnapping a chimpanzee from a local pet store, it was probably not the best idea to make her his new drinking buddy.
2. “Coco Shuns Bananas, Hates Trees, Monkeys” — Aug. 31, 1959
Coco “I’m not like other monkeys” Jenkins was a “spider monkey from Cuba” who loved ‘to wear beautiful clothes’, hated bananas, and refused to climb trees.” Coco preferred to climb “on the house, garage and other man-made structures” and eat baby oatmeal, cream, applesauce, and dill pickles. She lived with Mrs. Doris Jenkins who gifted Coco with “an extensive wardrobe.” Coco began her day each day by selecting a dress and pair of underwear, and bringing them to Mrs. Jenkins to dress her.
3. “Broken-Armed Monkey Aided: What’ll Baylor Have Next” — June 13, 1944
“‘You never can tell what’s coming to a hospital next’,” Mrs. Lillian Conwell and Mrs. P.M. Curry, admitting clerks at Baylor, declared … after checking a young monkey, fully dressed in baby clothes, through the X-ray room, where he was found to be suffering from a broken left wrist, and later through surgery, where his broken limb was splinted and placed in a sling.”
4. “Bath Sends Monkey on Tree Spree” — May 19, 1957
There were many stories in our archives about the antics of escaped pet monkeys, but we enjoyed Mert the monkey’s style. “Mert proved Saturday that a spider monkey, like a small boy, will protest a sudsy bath.” Unlike a small boy, Mert could escape from the tub into the trees and start a 45-minute police chase. “The drama soon was playing before a packed audience — some cheering Mert’s escapades. Always out of the reach of the police, Mert put on a grandstand performance — bounding from one porch to another, to roofs, through yards.”
5. “Hitchhiking Monkey Attacks Woman in Car” — Nov. 18, 1938
The Grizzelle sisters didn’t intend to pick up a hitchhiking monkey that afternoon, but the escaped pet monkey of E.W. Taber had other plans. “As Mrs. E.G. Grizzelle … paused briefly at the intersection of Matilda and Goliad,” now in Lower Greenville, the monkey leaped into her car. While “Mrs. Grizzelle made friends with the little animal,” the monkey took less kindly to Mary Grizzelle, her sister-in-law. He scratched and bit her. Before long, the monkey was captured and “a few minutes later the owner notified police his pet had escaped.”