VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Animal control officers say a monkey bit a child near 23rd Street and Atlantic Avenue late Wednesday night.
An emergency call was received at 10:30 p.m. in reference to the incident, according to Beach police.
Meghan Conti, with Virginia Beach Animal Control, says a 9-year-old girl visiting from Pennsylvania with her family was bitten by the monkey.
She says there is reason for concern, even though the young girl only suffered a minor injury to her hand.
"We always look at rabies (and) herpes," said Conti. "There's a wide list of different viruses that monkeys are carriers for that they can transfer to humans."
Conti says the monkey is a White-Headed Capuchin and is about the size of a mid-sized poodle.
The owner of the monkey reportedly fled the area immediately after the incident.
Officials spent the day Thursday reviewing security cameras on Atlantic Avenue in hopes of identifying the monkey's owner.
"It really comes down to the child's health," she said. "If we can identify the monkey and identify any medical history that the monkey has, vaccinations, things of that nature, (it) will benefit the course of action a medical doctor has to take with that child."
Conti says it is legal to have a pet monkey in Virginia Beach; however, city code says all animals, with the exception of dogs, must remain in a cage or enclosure on Atlantic Avenue between Rudee Inlet and 42nd Street.
Conti says animal bites must also be reported to animal control or the Virginia Department of Health, and the monkey's owner did not do that in this case.
The case remains under investigation by Virginia Beach Animal Control. Investigators are asking for information about the monkey or the monkey's owner.
Anyone with information on the monkey or the monkey's owner, you're asked to contact the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.