HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – A woman was bitten by a monkey that got loose Wednesday from the T.I.G.E.R.S. Myrtle Beach Safari in the Myrtle Beach area, authorities said.
74-year-old Shirley Smothers was taken to the hospital because of the bites and scratches she got during the encounter.
She had to go back Thursday because she still felt sick, and she’s left wondering how this all happened.
“We hear the lions and the tigers all the time, because my house backs up to it [T.I.G.E.R.S.], so we hear them all the time, but I never thought I’d walk out and see one sitting on my deck,” said Smothers.
Smothers lives less than a mile from the T.I.G.E.R.S. Myrtle Beach Safari facility in Socastee.
Although the roars of tigers never surprise her anymore, coming face-to-face with a monkey certainly wasn’t something she was expected.
“It was like crazy looking at me, you know what I mean? It had its teeth all showing,” said Smothers.
Smothers says her dog was barking so she went to see what was going on on her patio.
When she opened the door, she found the monkey sitting on her railing.
“I mean he was huge,” said Smothers. “He had to be at least two feet tall.”
Smothers says the monkey lunged at her and started scratching, so she threw up her left arm, and it bit her before running away.
She was taken to the hospital, where she was treated for rabies.
“Someone’s gonna have to pay these hospital bills,” said Smothers. “I can’t afford them. Apparently from what the hospital is telling me, these rabies shots are very, very expensive.”
WMBF News reached out to T.I.G.E.R.S. Myrtle Beach Safari Director Dr. Bhagavan “Doc” Antle to see if he’d heard about the incident.
“We are not aware of any primates that left our property,” said Antle. “We have them here. We have them out with us all the time as we have for the last 30 years that we’ve been here in Myrtle Beach, and we know of no primates that left our facility yesterday in any capacity.”
Antle says he did hear about the incident and wishes the best for Smothers.
He also says all of his animals are vaccinated for rabies annually.
Smothers says the hospital reached out to Myrtle Beach Safari but didn’t hear back.
She had to have eight rabies shots and will need to go back for three more.
Still, she said she was glad to keep one member of her household safe.
“If I hadn’t have been out on my porch, it would’ve gotten my dog,” said Smothers.
An incident report from the Horry County Police Department states an officer spoke with the owner of the T.I.G.E.R.S. preserve, who said the monkey did get loose and wandered into the next neighborhood before being recovered and placed back into a cage.