EDITORIAL: Monkey business

Nothing like a good monkey-on-the-loose story to get people talking.

Was there, is there, a three-foot-tall monkey running around the Dashwood-Meadowood area? There have been sightings, and the stories are getting a little hard to believe, but that’s what generally happens when the TV cameras arrive.

The conservation office has given up the search and they have deemed the reports “unsubstantiated.” Oceanside RCMP received a call, visited the area, called in the conservation officer and basically closed the file.

We hear that didn’t end it for local police however. They have received loads of calls about the monkey as our front-page story (coupled with postings on our website and Facebook page) went viral, whatever that really means (global? widely-read?). Unless you have an emergency, we do ask our readers to give the police a break on this one and please stop calling them about this monkey.

Stories about animals are often the most-read items in a newspaper. We can do supposedly-important stories about health care and education, but inevitably the most-read stories are the ones about feral cats or monkeys. Or UFOs.

We’re not sure what that says, if anything, about the reading habits of society, but from our perspective, we’re just happy you’re reading.

We wanted to laugh about the monkey story, and we have. There is, however, a serious side to this. A hungry, lost three-foot-tall monkey hanging around Meadowood could pose a danger to young people, or anyone for that matter.

But is there really a monkey hanging around Parksville Mayor Chris Burger’s Meadowood Store, panhandling for bananas? It’s possible someone saw some kind of long-tailed creature and decided it looked like a monkey. It’s also possible there really is a monkey in the trees of the area, if it has been able to survive four nights of near-zero temperatures.

This wouldn’t be the first elaborate hoax played on the media and people, if that’s what it is. We’d like to tell you there is no monkey, or that a monkey has been caught and is currently sipping a mango smoothie en route to the Vancouver Zoo but, alas, we cannot.

In fact, we’re not sure this story will ever have a tidy, definitive conclusion.     — Editorial by John Harding

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