Monkey man: What happens now?

Questions about Riopelle’s wild animals begin to surface



MILTON, Ga. – With the unexpected passing of Dean Riopelle, the “monkey man,” Sept. 24, what will happen to the animals he so loved?

Sam O’Neal with the Department of Natural Resources said things would remain the same.

He said Riopelle was in partnership with a corporation to house and breed the animals, and the primary caregiver will remain on the premises.

He would not provide the name of the partnership or primary caregiver.

O’Neal said the corporation is licensed through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but that Riopelle held the permit with the DNR.

“We’ve been in contact with the primary caregiver and are already in the process of changing the permit to the corporation’s name,” he said. “The permit would expire in 2014 but given the circumstances, we’re changing the name now.”

O’Neal said the DNR has inspected the property multiple times and the community shouldn’t be concerned with safety issues.

“Of course, there is always the possibility of a tree falling on a cage or something, but at this point, the animals are secure and we’re pleased with how things are being handled,” he said.

Milton is staying on top of the situation.

“Right now, the city is monitoring the situation with City Arborist and Code Enforcement Officer Mark Law checking in every few days,” Milton Communications Manager Jason Wright said.

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