A monkey on the loose has sparked new questions about an exotic animal sanctuary near Lake Cowichan.

The male capuchin monkey escaped an enclosure at Primate Estates on Saturday, according to the BC Conservation Officer Service.

It took off into a dense forested area making it difficult to track down, conservation officer Scott Norris told CTV News.

"Sounds like they were doing some work in the pens, and you know, monkeys are monkeys right? Sometimes they'll find a way out," said Norris.

While the monkey is not considered dangerous, the public is asked not to approach it. If they see it, they should instead call conservation at 1-877-952-7277.

"It's an exotic animal that does carry potentially diseases that could impact humans," said Norris.

Aside from concerns over the monkey, neighbours near the sanctuary say it's not the first time an exotic animal has escaped.

In 2007, a 200-pound Siberian tiger broke free from the same facility.

"The tiger was years ago, it escaped, and now the monkey," said Shane Baker. "I don't believe it's a spot for monkeys or any kind of exotic animals."

The tiger was eventually captured and removed from the sanctuary. While legislation barred the facility from mating any more monkeys, the existing primates remained.

CTV News has learned SPCA investigators received more than 20 complaints about the sanctuary over the years, including concerns over animal welfare.

Those investigators said they were surprised the provincial government has not been more critical of the facility. The province confirmed Primate Estates does have a permit to keep monkeys.

Owners wouldn't take questions from CTV reporter Scott Cunningham on Wednesday or allow him on the property.

SPCA investigators say they too have been denied access, and are worried about the foreign animals living there after another escape.