Animal Care: Galveston Judge Orders Handover of Illegal Pet Monkey to Primate Organization Texas Primate Owners United

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

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

SEE PREVIOUS STORY: Galveston woman asks to choose the home of a former capuchin monkey who was not allowed on the island

Lilly is a 4-year-old capuchin monkey that former owner Leigh Kuchera bought for her son while on vacation after going 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 in love with them. And he said, ‘Can we have one please.'”

They weren’t living in Galveston at the time, but the monkey reportedly escaped during a burglary and disappeared in January 2020.

Family members told reporters at the time that the monkey was hit by a car and killed, then buried in their yard, but Lilly was still alive.

Kuchera told ABC13 that’s when she found out it wasn’t 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 burglary 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 shelter while arrangements were made to take her to Huntsville, and that’s when she said animal control came in from force home and took the primate away.

Kuchera said she didn’t know how animal control knew about Lilly’s presence.

Kuchera asked and hoped that the city of Galveston would allow him to choose a home for the monkey.

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

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

Court documents from the hearing say the monkey cannot be returned to Kuchera and must be removed from the city of Galveston upon release. The judge also ordered Kuchera to pay the city and Moody Gardens for the care they have provided since July.

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

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved.

Boyd S. Abbott