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Mystery monkey update: Dayton's workers tried to rescue him

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The mummified monkey discovered in the former Dayton's department store in Minneapolis was apparently no mystery to one man: Bert Zumberge.

That's according to Gary Zumberge of St. Paul, the son of the former customer service executive at Dayton's. Bert retired from the retailer in 1987 and died in 2005.

"He told us at home once that they were very troubled about a monkey from the pet shop that had somehow disappeared. They thought it might have escaped from the cage there," said Gary Zumberge, in an interview about the incident after he saw news reports of the discovery.

"They looked for it and looked for it, and they heard rumors that people could hear this monkey running around in the ductwork. So they started trying to put things out within the ductwork.

"They had openings, food and what not. And they got more reports that the monkey was in the building, but they could never quite find it. And they were just distraught about this monkey," Zumberge said. "They knew it had been in the building, in the ductwork. They had heard it."

"But then it just stopped," Zumberge said.

There's no way to confirm the tale, possibly half a century after the fact, according to some reports. But the story fits with comments responding to a photo posted on Facebook of a desiccated monkey carcass found by a construction worker gutting the downtown store ahead of a $190 million redevelopment of the Minneapolis landmark. 

Customers reported seeing a monkey in the store, and the mayor of Robbinsdale, Regan Murphy, reported his father claimed to have stolen a monkey from Dayton's with friends, but sneaked back and released it into the store.

Zumberge said Dayton's staff wanted to care for the monkey and felt badly they couldn't help. 

"They were trying to find the monkey and bring it back. They were quite upset that this poor monkey was maybe in the ductwork, maybe scared and lost in the labyrinth. And they never saw it again."

Until, apparently, it appeared on Facebook, long dead.