Monkey Suspected Of Phoning 911 From A Zoo In California

"Our Deputies have seen their fair share of 'monkey business' in the County. But nothing quite like this."


Rachael Funnell


Rachael Funnell

Digital Content Producer

Rachael is a writer and digital content producer at IFLScience with a Zoology degree from the University of Southampton, UK, and a nose for novelty animal stories.

Digital Content Producer

monkey with phone
The San Luis Ibispo Police attended the scene of the suspicious 911 call only to find a baby monkey was responsible. Image Credit: GoodFocused/

A monkey had cops scratching their heads on August 13 after they received a mysterious 911 call. After losing connection, they investigated the source, finding that the call had been made from a zoo where no keepers owned up to being the caller – but a 10-month-old capuchin had reportedly nicked a cellphone.

“We're told Capuchin monkeys are very inquisitive and will grab anything and everything and just start pushing buttons,” wrote the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office on Facebook, in a post about the capuchin named Route’s technological adventures.


“And that's what Route did... just so happened it was in the right combination of numbers to call us.”

Route’s petty theft took place on the zoo’s golf cart, which keepers use to get around the 40-acre site at Zoo to You near Paso Robles. Route was riding alongside assistant director at Zoo to You Lisa Jackson when the young capuchin grabbed the phone, something that’s not out of character for the monkey.

“She was just kind of a passenger in my cart, and we're cruising along, and she grabbed the phone," CBC reports Jackson said in an interview with As It Happens guest host Susan Bonner.

“She's always inquisitive and so I thought nothing of it. Took the phone, put it back, and then her and I went about our business."


With a face that screams “You got any games on your phone?”, Route’s antics demonstrate the intelligence of these animals at even a young age – and as far as monkey business goes, it’s not all that unusual.

In Bali, long-tailed macaques have learned not only to steal from humans, but also how to barter. Research found they were capable of assessing what items were most likely to get them the tastiest trade when stolen from tourists on their home turf.

Examples included a shoe versus glasses, or hat versus phone, with the former representing the medium value and the latter representing the high value in both scenarios. Their results showed older monkeys were better at identifying and stealing high-value items, like phones, glasses, and wallets. They were also more likely to refuse measly offerings and hold out for big-ticket trades.

Route’s phone call may have “wasted” police time (though we doubt any of the officers would describe it like that), but at least she didn’t hold them to ransom after.


[H/T: NBC News]


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