Galveston woman asking to choose home for former pet capuchin monkey that was not allowed on island

Chaz Miller Image
Sunday, August 7, 2022
Galveston officials seize a semi-famous monkey,
You may recall, that Lilly the monkey escaped from home during a robbery in 2020, she was later found and taken by Galveston officials.

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A woman is asking and hoping that the city of Galveston would allow her to choose a home for her former pet monkey that she and her son bought while on vacation.

Lilly is a 4-year-old capuchin monkey Leigh Kuchera bought for her son after he was going through a rough patch.

"I took him out of the country to Honduras on a vacation to try to regroup," said Kuchera. "He met capuchin monkeys and absolutely fell in love with them. And he said, 'can we please get one.'"

They weren't living in Galveston then, but if a monkey named Lilly rings a bell, it's because she escaped from their Galveston home during a break-in and went missing in January 2020.

Kuchera told ABC13 that was when she found out it was not legal to house the animal on the island. "We located her later that night and found out it wasn't legal to have her here," she said.

RELATED: Galveston monkey missing since home break-in is returned to owner unharmed

As a result, Lilly began living in Brazoria County immediately after that 2020 escape, Kuchera said.

Lilly returned to Galveston for three days in July as a temporary refuge while arrangements were being made to get her to Huntsville, and that's when she said animal control forced their way into her home and took the primate.

Kuchera said she was unsure how animal control knew of Lilly's presence.

The City of Galveston said in a statement that the primate is still in their care at Moody Gardens.

Additionally, part of that statement included the following:

"The Animal Services division has remained willing to consider placement options from Ms. Kuchera so long as those placements demonstrate an ability to provide humane, long-term care for the animal, which has a 30+ year lifespan."

And while Galveston says they have a place for Lilly at a ranch in Murchison Texas, her owner says she wants to choose where her beloved primate ultimately ends up due to the complexities of capuchin monkeys.

"She'll be stuck in a cage and never have any human interaction," Kuchera said.

"They require that if they've been raised by humans. They're like human babies."

She added the city hasn't worked with her on sending the monkey where she deems appropriate.

A court hearing related to this decision is scheduled for Aug. 10, but Kuchera said she hopes it doesn't need to get to that point.

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