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Former Dayton's employee, Gov. Mark Dayton, weighs in on mystery of mummified monkey

Remains of a monkey were found recently in the former Minneapolis Dayton's Department Store. On Thursday, April 12, 2018, Gov. Mark Dayton said a money escaped when he worked at his family's store, but another family also has come forward saying the monkey had been stolen, then returned to the store. Old Minneapolis / Facebook1 / 2
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton tells reporters on Thursday, April 12, 2018, that he worked in the department store that carries his family name in 1968, when a monkey went missing. He wondered whether that the the monkey whose remains were found earlier in the week. Don Davis / Forum News Service2 / 2

ST. PAUL—The mummified monkey mystery may remain unsolved.

On Thursday, April 12, two potential answers surfaced to how the remains of a monkey got in the 116-year-old former Dayton's department store building in downtown Minneapolis.

Gov. Mark Dayton, who worked at his family's store in the summer of 1968, told reporters that the store put together a rainforest display with monkeys and birds to attract customers.

However, he said, "somebody did not figure out that monkeys were carnivores. I won't get into graphic details."

At some point, "they said one monkey got out," he said. It apparently escaped into an air duct.

"I was not responsible," added Dayton, whose family founded Dayton's as well as Target.

Oh, and the store quickly erected a netting between the monkeys and birds, but apparently there was one less bird on that side of the display (thanks to a monkey) and one less monkey (thanks to the escape).

Also Thursday, a family provided a video to the Star Tribune of Minneapolis showing a man who told of a monkey stolen from the store, and later tossed back in.

"My dad, Tom Netka, was with Larry Murphy; they were about 15 years old when they stole the monkey from Dayton's," Jessica Christensen told the newspaper.

The pair later returned the small animal.

In a video Netka recorded before he died, he said: "I think we just walked into the store, just opened the door and threw the monkey in."

Early in the week, Steven Laboe posted on a Facebook page that a man who worked for Dayton's more than 50 years told him about a monkey that had escaped from a pet store on the eighth floor in the 1960s.

The man told Laboe that after coming back to work on Monday from having the weekend off, the monkey cage was empty. Pet store employees determined that the monkey had escaped into the air conditioning duct.

"Someone complained about a horrible odor a few hours later and (as he explained it to me) the monkey tried to make a jump for it but managed to get caught up in one of the exhaust fan blades," Laboe wrote. "Needless to say, it wasn't a pretty picture."

The monkey's remains recently were discovered in rafters of the building by a group of construction workers doing restoration to the historic building on Nicollet Mall.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.