(NaturalNews) The California Department of Fish and Game has launched an investigation after discovering a wild monkey that was being kept illegally as a pet and fed on a diet of juice and Frosted Flakes.
Authorities became aware of the case in August, when a woman from Paso Robles, California, sought treatment at a hospital after being severely bitten on her arm and fingers several times. According to the hospital, it was not the first time she had been bitten. After treating the woman, the hospital reported her to the San Luis Obispo County division of Animal Services.
Upon investigating, officials identified the monkey as a 22-year-old Javan macaque named Jennaeve. The animal was being kept in the space far too small for her (a dog kennel) inside a trailer occupied by the injured woman and her boyfriend, and fed a diet consisting only of junk food.
Macaques are classified as wild animals under California law, and are illegal as pets. Their bite can do damage similar to that of a dog.
"This kind of animal is never meant to be kept domestically. It is illegal," said Animal Services Manager Eric Anderson.
"And that is entirely the wrong kind of diet."
Quarantine and investigation
Jennaeve is now undergoing a 60-day quarantine under the supervision of Zoo to You, an organization with facilities for rescued animals. It is unclear what will happen to her upon her release.
The monkey's poor diet and living conditions caused her to develop obesity (upon being taken into custody, and she weighed twice as much as she should) as well as tumors on her neck, shoulder and rump. She has been examined by a local vet and is being treated for her various health conditions.
Zoo to You director David Jackson said that Jennaeve's health is improving and that she is adjusting well to her surroundings. She has shown no signs of aggression, but has engaged in a few social activities.
"Like anybody, she is a little overwhelmed being in a new place surrounded by new people," Jackson said. "But she is getting the proper diet of fruits, vegetables and monkey chow, sunlight, room to roam and a place to hide and climb."
Officers from the Department of Fish and Game are attempting to figure out who the illicit owner of the monkey is, so that they can be charged with unlawful possession of a restricted species and billed for the quarantine's costs resulting from the monkey-inflicted bites.
Local media reported that the woman who was bitten had been caring for the monkey and lived in the trailer where it was being confined, but that authorities suspects her boyfriend of being Jennaeve's official "owner" and of being the person who illegally purchased her.
Anyone convicted of unlawfully possessing a restricted species can be sentenced to up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the exotic pet trade is the third most profitable criminal enterprise in the world, exceeded only by arms and drug trafficking. PETA advises against keeping wild animals as pets because in many cases, the animals have been "gathered" in ecologically damaging ways and smuggled out of the wild under abusive conditions. Because wild animals have different needs than domestic animals such as dogs and cats, uninformed "pet owners" often subject exotic animals to even further neglect and abuse. Many such people are then injured by the abused and frightened animals.
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