Monkey Scratch Gets Mom in Trouble

Police said the woman had an illegal monkey at home.

By LeAnne Gendreau and Seth Lemon
|  Monday, Feb 10, 2014  |  Updated 8:31 AM PDT
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    Authorities arrested a Connecticut mom and took away her pet monkey after it scratched the Waterbury woman’s 10-year-old daughter.

    Police said 10-year-old Samantha was injured on a snow day when she took Aladdin, the little marmoset monkey, out of a cage.

    Aladdin reached for a shiny hair clip, scratching the girl’s forehead.

    When Samantha returned to school, someone asked how she got the injury and she said it was from the monkey. The school then contacted police and the animal control officer contacted the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, reporting that a primate had bitten or scratched a youngster.

    Samantha's mom, Mariantonia Morales, said authorities demanded she give them the monkey.

    Morales said her sister brought Aladdin from her home in South Carolina, where the monkey is legal, to keep her company while recovering from surgery and complications from her cancer diagnosis.

    “I felt that I was being bullied,” Morales said. “I'm worried, and I'm heartbroken because they don't care that he's a part of the family. They just think it's just a monkey. But it's not just a monkey. For me, it's not just a monkey.”

    In Connecticut, marmoset monkeys are not allowed as pets, according to DEEP.

    State law prohibited residents from owning primates that weigh more than 50 pounds.

    It went into effect in 2004 after a chimpanzee escaped and led police on a chase in Stamford.

    Five years later, that chimp, Travis, mauled Charla Nash.

    After that brutal attack, the state cracked down on exotic pets.

    “Working with DEEP, we determined that it's illegal to have that type of animal in the house,” Waterbury Deputy Police Chief Chris Corbett said.

    DEEP police charged Morales with illegal possession of an exotic or dangerous animal.

    Police said it's a person's responsibility to know the laws of the state they're in.

    “Based on that, the mother was charged with risk of injury to a minor. One, because she shouldn't have had that animal in the house with the child and two, because she didn't seek medical treatment for the child,” Corbett said.

    Morales showed NBC Connecticut hospital documentation where doctors called her daughter's injury an abrasion, not a bite, as well as records of Aladdin's vaccinations.

    “I thought in my mind, as a mother, you get a scratch, what do you do? You put some Bacitracin on it and call it a day. She wasn't bit,” Morales said.

    Morales said she hopes some of the charges against her will be dismissed when she appears in court.

    But for now, she's just worried about Aladdin.

    “I just want him home. I have a six-month lease here. In May, if this is gonna be an outcome, I'm out, I can't be here,” she said.

    DEEP said the monkey was taken to Beardsley Zoo Bridgeport for observation. If he is healthy, he will be placed at an appropriate zoo or educational facility, according to DEEP.

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