The monkeys came aboard the Maersk Line container vessel Eugen Maersk while it was docked in Malaysia earlier this month, according to a company spokesman. After the ship’s crew noticed the stowaways, they contacted the Copenhagen Zoo, sending experts there photos of the monkeys to determine how to handle, feed and care for their uninvited guests.
Zoo experts identified them as most likely long-tailed macaque monkeys. The stowaways likely include one older male, one younger male, likely two females and one youngster, according to the company.
The crew safely lured the monkeys into a makeshift cage with food on the advice of zoo experts. After the ship docks in Rotterdam today, the monkeys will be handed over to Dutch authorities and the Dutch Monkey Foundation to determine whether to return them or give them to a zoo.
Maersk senior press Officer Michael Christian Storgaard admitted it was “a challenge” for the crew to build a cage and figure out how to take care of the monkeys, but they would never have thought of doing anything less.
Storgaard said it’s unclear how the monkeys came aboard or what lured them, noting that all of the containers would have been closed and nothing would have been left out in the open.
It’s not the first time monkeys have stowed away on a Maersk shipping liner, he added, but it’s definitely uncommon.