The public is being asked not to approach Charlie, the Capuchin monkey who escaped from Monkey Sanctuary Ireland in Rathdrum, Co Wicklow earlier this month.

“He won’t attack unless you try and pick him up,” William Heffernan, the head of Monkey Sanctuary Ireland, told The Irish Times.

“He’ll bite you, he’ll nip you, he’s like a feral cat.

“He’s not a pet, he’s never been petted so he’s not used to that.

"I would put food in a pulley bucket and I’ll wheel it overhead to the island, that’s the only contact [he has]. And cleaning out and if he needs any veterinary care.”

Heffernan said Charlie escaped from his island in the Sanctuary via a fallen tree when staff had been attempting to relocate him and another monkey.

The Dublin native said he believes Charlie would most likely be found in wooded areas but is concerned that the monkey could be "killed crossing the road."

Heffernan told Irish radio station KFM on Friday that Charlie is "completely clear of any viruses."

He added: “He’s only the size of a small cat, so he’s quite harmless. But he’s not a pet."

Monkey Sanctuary Ireland says it is the country's "first and only sanctuary for unwanted primates." It's completely volunteer-run and is not open to the public.

Most of the monkeys that live at Monkey Sanctuary Ireland were rescued from laboratories or circuses.

The Sanctuary says: "Rehabilitating Capuchins into such naturalistic surroundings is unusual and so important for learning about their behaviour on a daily basis.

"Although native to South America the monkeys don't seem to mind the cooler Irish climate - they even played in the snow one winter.

"The monkeys have insulated houses on each island with heat lamps (on 24 hours a day in Winter!) and radios playing soothing classical music."

The monkeys have lots of company at the Sanctuary which is also a refuge for goats, emus, pot-bellied pigs, parrots, peacocks, cats, and pigeons.

You can learn more about Monkey Sanctuary Ireland here: