Don’t Feed the Monkeys!

Matthew Boughter, Journalist

A lady in Texas was recently fired from her job at a law firm and may face criminal charges after she was filmed invading a monkey exhibit at the El Paso Zoo and feeding two spider monkeys Hot Cheetos.

The lady has been identified as Lucy Rae and she laughs as she feeds the monkeys (Libby and Sunday)  junk food, but social media and the zookeepers didn’t find it so funny. One post reads: “This is (unfortunately) real: A local woman crossed into the spider monkey enclosure at the @elpasozoo today and fed them … Hot Cheetos.”

According to the police, the woman is facing a possible misdemeanor criminal trespassing charge. Police Spokesman Sgt. Enrique Carrillo wrote, “The El Paso Police Department is investigating a case involving a woman who trespassed into a monkey enclosure at the El Paso Zoo,” The punishments for trespassing in EL Paso are up to $2,000 in fines and up to 180 days in jail.

Rae’s job found out about it and didn’t find it funny either. “The firm has always been a strong supporter of animals and animal advocacy,” stated the company. “We absolutely do not condone this irresponsible and reckless behavior.”

The internet was no exception when it came to being angry about Rae’s actions. It has over 150,000 views and many upset comments. One comment reads,”This is why El Paso can’t have nice things.” And another says, “She belongs in the zoo.”

Joe Montisano, the El Paso Zoo Director said that Rae was very stupid and lucky that she wasn’t hurt in her little adventure and that the zoo definitely plans on pressing charges.

It takes years to build trust with these animals and for someone to come in there for five minutes for a video on Instagram or whatever just ruins years of work.”

— Mason Kleist

Don’t be too worried though. The monkeys weren’t harmed at all by the Hot Cheetos and they seemed to be more afraid of the woman than they were hurt by the food. Sadly, Rae did also put the monkeys at risk for Coronavirus which could be deadly to them. “Anything that we have, they could get as well, so COVID is no different,” zookeeper Mason Kleist said. “We took the necessary steps to prevent them from getting that, so for someone to just go in there and give them food from their hands could just ruin that.”

“It takes years to build trust with these animals and for someone to come in there for five minutes for a video on Instagram or whatever just ruins years of work,” Kleist said.

The zoo will soon be installing security cameras and improve the fencing so that Rae’s actions don’t spark repeat occurrences by more people.