Galveston judge orders illegal pet monkey to be handed over to primate organization

Chaz Miller Image
Friday, August 12, 2022
Galveston judge orders illegal pet monkey to be handed over to primate organization
Court documents state the 4-year-old monkey is to be removed from Galveston and handed over to Texas Primate Owner United in San Antonio.

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A former pet monkey seized in Galveston will soon have a new home.

A judge ordered on Wednesday that the animal be taken to Texas Primate Owners United-- a primate organization based in San Antonio.

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

Lilly is a 4-year-old capuchin monkey that previous owner Leigh Kuchera bought for her son while on vacation after he was going through a rough patch.

"I took him out of the country to Honduras on a vacation to try to regroup," Kuchera said. "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 the monkey had allegedly escaped during a break-in and went missing in January 2020.

Family members told reporters back then, the monkey was hit by a car and killed-- then buried in their backyard, but Lilly was still alive.

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.

Kuchera was asking and hoping the City of Galveston would allow her to choose a home for the monkey.

Lilly was seized along with two other monkeys in separate homes last month.

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

Court documents from the hearing state the monkey may not be returned to Kuchera and is to be removed from the City of Galveston upon release. The judge also ordered that Kuchera shall pay the city and Moody Gardens for care they provided since July.

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