EL PASO, Texas – A Texas woman climbed into the spider monkey enclosure at El Paso Zoo over the weekend to feed the animals Hot Cheetos, according to multiple reports.
An article from ABC7 identified the woman who entered the enclosure as Lucy Rae - someone El Paso Zoo director Joe Montisano described as “stupid and lucky.”
In a video posted to Instagram by FitFamElPaso, Rae can be seen feeding the animals underneath a waterfall feature in their habitat before walking back towards the pathway and out of the enclosure.
Zookeeper Mason Kleist told ABC7 that Rae didn’t just put herself in harm’s way but also endangered the spider monkeys, named Libby and Sunday. In addition to potentially harming the animals by deviating from their specialized diet, she also could have potentially exposed them to COVID-19, Kleist said.
Montisano told Newsweek that the monkeys are fine, “maybe a little shaken up by the incident but they are fine.”
He also told the publication that zoo officials are meeting with law enforcement to discuss bringing charges against Rae and that they “will be pursuing prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to an article from People, Kleist said it’s going to take years for the monkeys to build trust again with the zookeepers and said Rae ruined the relationship with her actions. “For someone to come in there for five minutes for a video on Instagram or whatever just ruins years of work,” Kleist said.
An update from ABC7 noted that Rae has been fired from her job as a litigation assistant at the Lovett Law Firm following the publication of the video.
KSAT has reached out to El Paso Zoo for comment.