Commonwealth Journal

January 7, 2014

Monkey not likely involved in infant’s death

by Chris Harris
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset — An illegal primate has been confiscated from the home of a Pulaski County woman who had previously been charged with a similar offense.

According to Mark Marraccini, a spokesperson for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, a six-month-old Capuchin monkey was discovered Sunday at a residence Country Oaks Drive in southern Pulaski County.

The animal was taken to a primate rescue center in Jessamine County.

The monkey, about a foot-and-a-half tall, was discovered in the home of Tamela Collins Stigall.

In 2012, Collins Stigallfound herself in legal trouble when it was discovered she was in the possession of a monkey that was part of the Java Macaque family. Collins Stigall said at that time that her son had autism and she had purchased the monkey as a service companion for the boy. She soon ran into a problem, when she found out it was illegal to own a monkey in Kentucky without a special permit.

“I didn’t know that when I purchased him,” Collins Stigall said in 2012.

Following the discovery of the Capuchin monkey in Collins Stigall’s home this past Sunday, Collins Stigall was cited with two counts: one for illegally possessing inherently dangerous wildlife, and one not having the proper permits, according to Marraccini.

“It’s not legal to possess monkeys in Kentucky or any primates,” he said.

Somerset Police responded to the home Sunday on a call about an unresponsive infant. While there, they discovered the monkey in the house.

“It was in a bedroom with the door closed,” said Capt. Shannon Smith of Somerset Police (SPD). “It wasn’t wandering around loose.”

The infant was later pronounced dead at Lake Cumberland Regional, said Smith. He said that there is not believed to be any connection between the death and the presence of the monkey.

Police contacted the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife about the monkey, and conversation officer Jason Estes showed up later that day.

“He said a young man came to the door,” said Marraccini of Estes. “He asked if they had a monkey and (the young man) said they did.”

Monkeys such as this one are considered inherently dangerous for several reasons, said Marraccini

“Disease (is one reason) ... They do carry diseases that transmit to humans. Monkey pox was the reason for the original executive order (against possessing such animals) back in 2004,” said Marraccini. “They’re incredibly strong. They bite. .. Monkeys are naturally so much stronger than people.

“There are a number of cases from around the country where young monkeys are being raised,” he added. “Once they reach adolescence, they become extremely dangerous to their owners.”

Capuchin monkeys belong to the subfamily Cebinae, and are typically found in South America and Central America. They’re named after the Capuchin order of friars because of their appearance, and are considered highly intelligent.

Marraccini said that Collins Stigall has a court date set for January 22 on the criminal counts related to possessing the monkey.