Sighing, Patrol Dispatcher Karen Jones passed on the information to the Broward County sheriff's office, which passed it on to the county's Rabies Control unit. Having no one to pass it on to, that agency gave it to Officer Henry Ring, a 34-year-old Air Force veteran from New Jersey. South Jersey most likely. There is a rebel flag tattoo on his right forearm. While Ring was heading for the park, Lee Garen, Broward County bureau chief of Miami radio station WGBS, was calling Mrs. Jones. "What's happening?" asked Garen.
"Nothing's happening," replied Mrs. Jones. "They're all out chasing a big monkey."
"A big what?" Then Garen grabbed his .38 revolver and a camera and jumped into his car, heading it toward the trailer park.
"When I arrived," said Officer Ring, "half the park was running around carrying guns. They were going to start a war, I think. Garen and I and four others—one of them packing a .44 Magnum on each hip—searched the area. We found nothing but a bunch of strange tracks, like someone was walking around on his knuckles. The next night we stayed out until six a.m. Again, nothing. Then I talked to a Mrs. King, and she said she not only saw the critter but had fed, petted and been scratched by the smaller one."
Mrs. Elda King, her husband Bob and their two toy poodles live in an $18,000, custom-built trailer on the eastern edge of the park. She drives a catering truck; he drives a freight truck. She is excited by the apes; he is bored with them. "Every time I come home there's some kind of jazz," he says. "Now it's apes and orangutans. I'll get a gun and shoot the bums."
Describing the encounter, Mrs. King said she thought someone was at the door of the trailer early one evening. She opened it and found herself confronting a large, hairy beast. It was three feet away. She closed the door. "Then I rolled open the window and looked at it. It was about six feet tall; gray, with splotches and sores all over it. Wow." Arming herself with a plate of food and a .22 revolver, Mrs. King decided to lure the animal within range. About 7:45 p.m. the small one showed up.
"It was cute," she said. "I sat down beside it while it was eating and petted it. But the third time I touched it, there was this deep growl, like a big bullfrog, from the bushes. It made the little one mad. It reached over and dug its nails into my ankle and took off. I was thinking about grabbing it and running for the trailer—but I figured no trailer would stop its mommy or daddy."
One night last week a new posse formed. There was a writer from New York, a photographer from Atlanta, a Davies cop named Ben and his wife, Officer Ring and Garen, plus assorted friends. Ring, who was off the ape hunt officially but now out on his own, borrowed Mrs. King's .22 and climbed a tree near her trailer.
"He's nuts," said Mrs. King. "If that ape heads up the tree, he had better get off six quick shots. That thing'll tear him up."
Meanwhile, Officer Ring was thinking: "What am I doing up here with only a .22?"