FL: Monkey Bites Child’s Hand At Restaurant

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A story that’s sure to leave you scratching your head.

The 8-year-old boy came to Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Stuart for a meal with his dad.

He came face to face with a monkey and when he reached out to touch the animal, it did not turn out the way the boy or his dad expected.

Michelle VanHouten, a grandmother from Stuart, adores her pet Capuchin monkey named JoJo.

“She is lovable,” Michelle said.

She and her husband sometimes go out to eat, and they like to take Jojo with them.

Last month they were sitting on the patio at a Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Stuart, with JoJo in a high chair.

A man and his 8-year-old son happened to be walking by, leaving the eatery.

“The son kind of stood back, he was a little afraid, didn’t want to go close to her. The father told him, ‘oh don’t be a wimp, come say hi to Jojo,’” Michelle said.

They say the boy reached over to touch JoJo and put his finger near the monkey’s mouth.

“Jojo just gently took his finger, put it in her mouth like that and gently started to just put pressure,” Michelle said.

“She just put the hand in her mouth and I guess it started hurting the kid, the kid pulled fast,” said Richard VanHouten, Michelle’s husband.

The VanHouten’s say the boy started to get scared and quickly pulled his finger out of the monkey’s mouth and ended up getting bitten.

“You don’t think it was the monkey’s fault then?” the reporter asked.

“Of course not, of course not,” Richard said.

“They’re very lovable. They’re almost like having furry kids,” said Michelle.

The couple says they want the public to understand this was not a violent attack. They say it’s possible since the little boy had just finished eating, maybe the monkey smelled some traces of food on the boy’s finger and the monkey was tasting it. When the child pulled his hand away, the monkey bit his finger.

“She’s not vicious. She didn’t run after or attack the kid. She didn’t violently go after him. It was just a mishap, it was something we won’t let happen again,” Michelle said.

They say from now on, if they’re at a restaurant, no one will be allowed to touch JoJo.

“We learned from that. Nobody touches him at restaurants. We don’t even allow anybody, it’s no. Don’t even come over. You can take all the pictures you want of JoJo and that’s it,” Richard said.

 The CBS reporter went to two homes to find the boy and his parents. No response.

Florida Fish and Wildlife ended up charging the couple with two misdemeanors for not having the monkey vaccinated for rabies and for not keeping the monkey from hurting someone.

Turns out the monkey did not have rabies and has since had his rabies shots.

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