A female rhesus macaque carries her baby in Silver Springs State Park in Florida in 2013. A handful of people say they've seen a baby rhesus macaque in Portland this week. Credit: Lissa Crigar / Star-Banner via AP

PORTLAND, Maine — At first, Anna McMurchy figured it was a squirrel, or maybe a chipmunk, running across Congress Street, in front of her car on Monday afternoon.

The furball was small and brown.

Then she noticed the tail. It wasn’t bushy but long and thin, instead.

When it reached the far side of the street, the mystery critter mounted the curb. Then it muckled onto a wrought iron fence and climbed — using its hands — before vanishing.

“I didn’t want to say it out loud,” McMurchy said, “because I knew it would sound crazy.”

But she did.

“Was that a monkey?” McMurchy said to her friend in the passenger seat.

McMurchy, who lives in Cape Elizabeth, didn’t mention it to anyone else until Wednesday, when she wrote about the puzzling encounter on Facebook. The post immediately garnered more than a hundred comments and dozens of shares. What’s more, two additional people reported seeing something distinctly monkey-like in the same area.

Thus far, no photographic evidence of the critter has surfaced.

McMurchy said her sighting took place Monday afternoon at 3:15 p.m. while ferrying her friend to the bus station at Thompson’s Point. It happened just in front of Tandem Coffee at 742 Congress St..

“I was surprised,” she said. “Stunned.”

McMurchy said she understands it’s unlikely, but she’s sure of what she saw. After Googling pictures of various primates, McMurchy thinks it may have been a baby rhesus macaque.

Rhesus macaques, colloquially known as rhesus monkeys, are used widely in medical and scientific research.

Another Facebook user, Troy Jason, said he saw something too on Monday, near Deering Oaks.

“It was right around Deering Oaks,” Jason said. “I took a closer look and I’m certain it was a monkey.”

Beth Taylor Weyand posted to Facebook that she didn’t see it, but her daughter did.

“My 3-year-old daughter said she saw a monkey in that area a day or two ago,” Weyand wrote. “She has an active imagination so I chalked it up to that, but I guess I need to give her more credit.”

McMurchy said she called the Greater Portland Animal Refuge League to report her monkey sighting, in case someone was looking for it.

“They didn’t seem to take it too seriously,” McMurchy said.

A call to the Refuge League was not immediately returned.

Avatar photo

Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.