Animal Care: Woman fights the city of Galveston to find permanent homes for monkeys who weren’t allowed to be on the island

GALVESTON, TX (KTRK) — A woman asks, hoping the city of Galveston would allow her to choose a home for her former pet monkey, which she and her son bought while on vacation.

Lilly is a 4-year-old capuchin monkey that Leigh Kuchera bought for her son after he went through a tough time.

“I took him out of the country to Honduras on vacation to try to regroup,” Kuchera said. “He met capuchin monkeys and fell madly in love with them. And he said, ‘Can we have one, please?’”

They didn’t live in Galveston at the time, but if a monkey named Lilly rings a bell, it’s because she escaped from her Galveston home during a burglary and went missing in January 2020.

Kuchera told ABC13 when she found out it wasn’t legal to house the animal on the island. “We tracked her down later that night and found out it wasn’t legal to have her here,” she said.

RELATED: Galveston monkey missing since house burgled is returned to owner unharmed

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

Lilly returned to Galveston in July for three days as a temporary refuge while arrangements were made to take her to Huntsville, and then she said animal control entered her home and took the primate away.

Kuchera said she wasn’t sure how the animal welfare agency knew about Lilly’s presence.

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

In addition, part of that statement included the following:

“The Animal Services Department remains willing to consider placement options for Ms. Kuchera so long as those placements demonstrate the ability to provide humane long-term care for the animal, which has a lifespan of over 30 years.”

And while Galveston says they have a place for Lilly on a ranch in Murchison Texas, her owner says the complexity of capuchin monkeys means she wants to decide where her beloved primate ultimately ends up.

“She will be trapped in a cage and never have any human interaction,” Kuchera said.

“They ask for it when they’ve been raised by humans. They are like human babies.”

She added the city hasn’t worked with her to send the monkey where she sees fit.

A court hearing related to that decision is scheduled for Aug. 10, but Kuchera said she hopes it doesn’t have to come to that.

For updates, follow Chaz Miller on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved. Animal Care: Woman fights the city of Galveston to find permanent homes for monkeys who weren’t allowed to be on the island

Dais Johnston

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