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Police: Reports of baboon on the loose a hoax

Police: Reports of baboon on the loose a hoax

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UPDATE: Report called a hoax.

FLORISSANT -- Authorities say a report of a baboon or chimp on the loose in a Florissant subdivision was a hoax.A 14-year-old girl who claimed she saw the animal in her backyard and snapped a photo told police this afternoon that she actually found a picture of a baboon on the Internet and took a photo of it on her computer screen, police said.

Florissant police said the department spent much of the day investigating the incident. Police said the incident will be referred to St. Louis County Family Court for review.

The girl's mother had provided the photo of the baboon to city officials and news media. But an identical photo can be found in an Internet search and the story began to unravel.

The girl and her mother left their home with detectives at mid-afternoon to be interviewed at the police station.

Police Chief William Karabas told reporters then that his officers would continue to handle the report as real until it could be proven to be a hoax.

Officials said that St. Louis Zoo officials, who have been providing advice, confirmed that feces provided by the homeowner, reported to be from the back yard, was from some type of primate.

Schools in the area, near Patterson Road and Jana Drive, took precautions and kept children inside during recess. Police notified officials at Jana Elementary School and as an extra measure, Hazelwood administrators also asked several other elementary schools to keep their students inside.

Others called police with claims they'd seen the baboon after the girl's report of the baboon was reported.

Karabas said some who said they had seen the animal in recent days didn't know what it was. A resident called police Thursday morning to report that a chimp was running loose in a common ground area behind the homes. The common ground area is about a block wide and a couple blocks long.

Earlier today, police asked the Zoo for help rounding it up.

Karabas had suggested then that it was probably a pet at some point. He said it was not an escapee from the zoo.

In the Florissant neighborhood where people were searching, the scene this afternoon was chaotic. One woman, who did not want to be identified, said she owned a monkey. She made baboon-like noises and scattered Lays potato chips and Cheetos on the ground in an effort to lure out the animal.

Another woman who said she owned a monkey was walking around with a net, hoping to catch the loose animal.

Jessica Bock, Christine Byers, Greg Jonsson and David Carson  of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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