Residents of the Sardinia Bay Golf Estate in Port Elizabeth were confused and infuriated to discover a male vervet monkey completely covered in white paint on Tuesday [May 12].

The primate was spotted in a tree by estate resident Michelle Hughes, who contacted her fellow residents for help. One of the residents, Marizanne Ferreira, contacted environmental conservation organisation Monkey Matters to help trap the monkey.

The residents worked with Joeleen Beyers of Monkey Matters to trap the animal and transport him to the 9th Avenue Vet, where five workers then spent two hours trying to scrub the monkey clean while he was under sedation. The paint had already hardened, affecting the monkey’s mobility and speed. In some areas, the paint was up to 5cm thick.

The monkey, who has been nicknamed Samson, is doing much better now and has been released back into the area he was trapped. In a video shared to the Monkey Matters Facebook page, he can be seen playing outside.

There has since been much confusion over whether this was an act of animal cruelty or an accident. Painting a monkey white or covering it in flour is an act that dates back to the Voortrekker days, when they would do it scare off other monkeys and baboons from their fields and thus protect their crops.

A cash reward was offered on the MannMadeRadio Facebook page for any information on what happened to Samson. Many have commented to share their anger over the case.

According to Herald Live, a resident has since come forward to take responsibility for the incident. The resident claimed that Samson had accidentally wondered into his storeroom and doused himself in the paint.

“My storage window was open … I had painted the storeroom … an empty can was found the next day and I could not understand why the can was outside. I saw a photo a few days later of what had happened [to the monkey]. No-one painted the poor animal,” the man wrote.

The Monkey Matters team will continue to look into the matter, and are considering pursuing legal action.

Picture: Facebook / Monkey Matters

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