Escaped Monkey Spreads Terror in East Riverdale

Do not piss off an angry monkey. It will tear your face off. Never trust a monkey, especially one that is getting its first taste of freedom.

angry monkeys are scary

angry monkeys are scary

The summer of 1929 had the residents of East Riverdale, Maryland bear witness to one of the more bizarre and frightening incidents of the year. And shockingly similar to the monkey rampage of 1909.

An article in the Washington Post, published on August 23rd, details the craziness that ensued following the escape of a pet monkey.

A 30-pound monkey with a fierce mien has started a “gorilla” scare in East Riverdale and its environs. Children, seeing the monkey, have been frightened by its appearance and antics, and have helped spread tales of a ferocious gorilla.

Since its escape from the household of Freddie Fretwell, of Edmonston, several weeks ago, the monkey has made its appearance on several occasions. Once it pulled the feathers from all the chickens in the yard of an Edmonston resident. The chicken owner attempted to capture the monkey, but refrained when he was bitten.

The simian is about the size of a dog, and has an especially ferocious appearance, aided by the long teeth it shows when attempts are made to capture it. It will accept bananas and other food, but begin to snarl when efforts are made to capture it.

The monkey apparently has “gone native,” and seems to have decided on a woods near the Fretwell home as a hiding place. Two men succeeded in throwing a net over the animal but he escaped and jumped into a creek, swimming under water to the opposite side.

Damn. I bet you didn’t expect this to be the Jason Bourne of monkeys. Badass.

Fretwell was given the monkey to keep by a truck driver who had bought it from a carnival. The monkey rode a pony in the show but was injured when it fell off and was stepped on by the pony.

The monkey used to ride on his motor cycle and go to work with him, Fretwell said, and seemed to enjoy the ride. One day he became peeved and began throwing storage batteries around the garage where Fretwell works.

It was reported to Fretwell that the monkey was captured several days ago but he has been unable to find the captor. The story of the “gorilla” has spread from Hyattsville to Beltsville and through the intervening territory. The further from the source the tale is traced, the more fierce and enormous the “gorilla.”

I can imagine the panic of the neighborhood, knowing that there was a wild “gorilla” roaming their community, ready to attack at any moment. Or maybe a scene from Outbreak? Where is Dustin Hoffman when you need him?

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  • RC Brown

    Simian later got tenure and taught for 30 years at U-MD. A great week for monkey rage posts.