A Texas woman is fortunate to have escaped safely from a spider monkey enclosure at El Paso Zoo after she climbed in to feed the primates Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. While it’s unclear what her reasoning for doing so was, the unnamed woman climbed over barriers and waded through four feet of water to get to a platform where two spider monkeys named Libby and Sunday sat. There, she fed them before she was removed from the enclosure.
1. Officials described the woman as “stupid and lucky.” El Paso Zoo director Joe Montisano slammed the woman for her stunt, which was dangerous not only for herself but for the animals, according to ABC7. “These are primates we’re talking about. They could do some substantial damage to you,” zookeeper Mason Kleist told the outlet. “They may be small monkeys, but they can take you to the ground if they wanted to.”
2. The monkeys in question have a specialized diet. It should go without saying that the diet of spider monkeys does not include Hot Cheetos. Libby and Sunday eat a specialized diet and the zookeeper said that eating any kind of human food could cause stomach and bowel problems for the animals.
3. Not only that, but even illnesses like COVID-19 could have been passed on. “Anything that we have they could get as well, so COVID is no different,” Kleist told ABC 7. “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.”
4. The truth the animals have with the zookeepers has been harmed by the woman’s thoughtless stunt. As Kleist explained, they have worked for a long time with the animals to build trust with them, and the woman walking into their inclosure has damaged 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,” he said. “It’s going to take a long time to get them back to where they were.”