Search efforts for Moe the missing chimp have been suspended amidst mounting expenses for helicopters, bloodhounds and fuel.
More than a month ago, Moe escaped from his enclosure at Jungle Exotics, a Devore company that supplies animals to the entertainment industry.
"The volunteers (searchers) have worn themselves out," said Joe Camp, owner of Animal Exotics. "We're waiting for him (Moe) to make an appearance or be sighted."
Searchers have employed helicopters, surveillance cameras and bloodhounds in ill-fated attempts to capture the elusive primate.
"The search has taken a financial and psychological toll on a lot of people," said Michael McCasland, a spokesman for Moe's owners, St. James and LaDonna Davis. "Especially the Davises."
The first reported, but unconfirmed "monkey" sighting was at the Deer Park nudist camp; subsequent sightings near Big Bear Lake and elsewhere in the San Bernardino Mountains were never substantiated.
"I have no clue what happened to him," LaDonna Davis said. "It's been more than a month."
The absence of a credible Moe sighting has discouraged searchers and raised questions about the prudence of spending thousands of dollars on aerial surveillance and tracking dogs.
"We've run out of (trained) volunteers," McCasland said. "I have to get more people."
Although concerned, those close to Moe remain hopeful for the chimp's safe return.
"I have to be optimistic.