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Wayward baboon creates buzz in NJ

JACKSON, N.J. -- A wayward baboon remained on the loose in New Jersey Friday, causing some concern among local residents but creating a buzz among online followers closely following the animal's travels.

Three new sightings were reported Friday in residential areas, one day after the baboon was first spotted near a major highway and later in the backyard of a local home.

All five sightings were not far from Six Flags Great Adventure's Monkey Jungle in Jackson Township, leading to speculation that the animal may have escaped from the park, which has 150 baboons. But officials there were still unsure Friday whether one of their animals is missing because they are not counted daily, and crews that went looking for the baboon have found no signs of an escape.

"They have been out there looking for clues, like paw prints or tracks, but they didn't find any signs a baboon had been there," said Kristen Siebeneicher, the park's communications director.

The Great Adventure baboons are vaccinated, fenced in and implanted with microchips. Siebeneicher said they are not counted daily because the animals sleep outside in the Monkey Jungle preserve, so there's no way to tell if a baboon is missing.

Police and park officials had started looking for the baboon on Thursday afternoon after a driver saw it near Interstate 95 in the Ocean County community. Sgt. Edward Bennett said police were working with park officials, adding that if it's found they would likely rely on the expertise of Great Adventure staffers to catch it.

Officials say anyone who spots the baboon should call police -- and not approach the animal, even though baboons are not typically aggressive.

-- AP

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