The baboon "Fluffy," whose "Wanted" poster prompted a call to the local newspaper.
Photo by Jeff Switzer/Woodinville Weekly.
by Jeff Switzer
It all began with a call from a concerned cat owner living near Holly Hills in Bothell. She had heard from her husband, and then she and her friends had seen the poster at Coast Arms in Woodinville for themselves.
It read: "MISSING--Fluffy," with a Polaroid photo of a ferocious baboon underneath, then: "CAUTION: BITES. Reward, 481-1417."
An employee at Coast Arms then spun a tale for the woman and her friends of how the baboon had been missing for a few weeks in Holly Hills, and was living off neighborhood cats and dogs. He said it had last been spotted near the tennis courts by a tennis player who chased after it and threw his racket at it. The employee then told the woman the baboon picked up the racket and began chasing the tennis player.
The woman decided to keep her cats in that night. The next morning, she called the Woodinville Weekly and left a message about the missing baboon in Holly Hills.
Intrepid reporter Karen Diefendorf, with an air of suspicion, contacted the woman for more information. She was told the tale.
Reporter Jeff Switzer took it from there, and with tongue in cheek, mentioned the baboon to city staff, also checking the lost-and-found board at Sno-Wood Veterinary Hospital.
Karen and Jeff then went to Coast Arms to inspect the poster firsthand and retrieve the posted phone number. Upon arrival at Coast Arms, in the Woodinville Weekly van, Karen and Jeff disembarked and stormed the complex, camera in hand, asking pointed questions of the staff, who immediately came clean. They informed the reporters that an Armadillo Barbecue employee had hung up the poster as a joke because people had periodically come into the Armadillo to post missing cat notices.
Jeff decided that he would call the Armadillo and claim to be a person who had seen the baboon in Holly Hills. He spoke with someone named "Bobby." Jeff was put on hold.
When he came to phone, the first thing Bobby asked Jeff was if he had a gun, to which Jeff replied, "No. Why would I need a gun in Woodinville?"
Bobby told Jeff that he shouldn't go near the baboon because it might attack. Jeff asked if the baboon belonged to the Armadillo, to which Bobby replied, "Yeah, we keep her here, but she got loose a few weeks ago."
"And it's named 'Fluffy?'" Jeff asked. "Yeah," Bobby replied. "Well, how big is it?" Jeff asked. "Oh, about 60 pounds," Bobby answered. "So, about the size of a fourth grader?" Jeff responded. "Yeah."
Jeff then asked if the authorities had been contacted, and Bobby indicated that they had called the cops and the animal shelters.
Jeff asked the guy for his name. Bobby hesitated, and then said, "Well, before I do, I should tell you, this is all a big joke," and laughingly apologized for the the trouble.
To which Jeff replied, "That's okay. My name's Jeff Switzer and I'm a reporter for the Woodinville Weekly and I knew it was a joke the whole time."
Bobby began to laugh louder and said Jeff should come in and see the real baboon, a stuffed one they keep in the restaurant.
Yeah, right, Bobby.
The concerned cat owner from Holly Hills later called the Woodinville Weekly and was informed that she could safely let her cats out of doors. She jokingly said she would personally boycott Coast Arms.