Texas woman gets fired after jumping into monkey enclosure at local zoo

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A Texas woman who jumped into a monkey enclosure to feed the animals hot Cheetos was fired from her job as a litigation assistant over her “irresponsible and reckless behavior.”

The woman, identified by news reports as Lucy Rae, was seen in the El Paso Zoo enclosure in an Instagram video shared on Saturday. In the video, Rae can be heard giggling and seen throwing and handing the Cheetos to the monkeys.

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“We absolutely do not condone this irresponsible and reckless behavior. We support the El Paso Zoo and our thoughts go out to the spider monkeys, Libby and Sunday, and hope that they will recover from this very traumatic experience,” Lovett Law Firm said in a statement about Rae when announcing her termination on Tuesday.

El Paso Zoo Director Joe Montisano told KVIA of El Paso that Rae’s actions were dangerous to herself and the two monkeys, Libby and Sunday, who accepted her snacks.

The monkeys are on a specialized diet, and exposure to new foods could make them sick, Montisano said. The woman also could have put the animals at risk of catching COVID-19, he added.

Zookeeper Mason Kleist said Rae’s interaction could harm the trust the monkeys have built with the zoo staff.

“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. It’s going to take a long time to get them back to where they were and training,” Kleist told KVIA.

El Paso police indicate the zoo filed a complaint, and the case remains under investigation. Police, however, said they have not yet identified the woman to the public, despite what outlets reporting the woman as being Rae.

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“The El Paso Police Department is investigating a case involving a woman who trespassed into a monkey enclosure at the El Paso Zoo,” a spokesperson told the Washington Examiner. “The identity of the person involved will only be revealed when and if an arrest is made.”

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