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Woman seen jumping into monkey habitat at El Paso Zoo identified and arrested by police

UPDATE, May 26: EL PASO, Texas -- Woman seen in viral video jumping over a barrier into the El Paso Zoo's spider monkey enclosure is arrested and charged with Criminal Trespass.

Police identified the woman as 26-year-old Luz Elizabeth Rae. Rae was arrested Thursday morning and has been booked under a $1,500 bond.

UPDATE, May 24: An El Paso law firm on Monday identified the woman who is seen on video jumping a barrier to gain access to the El Paso Zoo's spider monkey enclosure.

The Lovett Law Firm told ABC-7 that Lucy Rae had been a litigation assistant in the firm's personal injury division.

A firm spokesperson said Rae was fired on Monday after she was recognized as the zoo trespasser; the firm said it didn't condone Rae's actions or have any advanced knowledge of her intentions.

El Paso police indicated the zoo had filed a complaint and the case was under investigation. A spokesman said there was the potential for criminal charges to be brought against the woman.

ORIGINAL REPORT, May 23: EL PASO, Texas -- “Stupid and lucky.” Those are the words the director of the El Paso Zoo, Joe Montisano, used to describe the local women who trespassed into the zoo's spider monkey enclosure over the weekend.  

"These are primates we're talking about, they could do some substantial damage to you,” Mason Kleist, a zookeeper at facility said. “They may be small monkey's but they can take you to the ground if they wanted to.”

He said the woman didn't just put herself in harms way, she also endangered Libby and Sunday, the two spider monkeys, by feeding them.

The monkeys have a specialized diet so her feeding them could cause stomach problems and bowel disruptions. Zookeepers also told ABC-7 that the woman put the monkeys at risk of catching Covid-19.

“Anything that we have they could get as well so Covid is no different,” Kleist said. “We took the necessary steps to prevent them from getting that, so for someone to just go in there and give them food from their hands could just ruin that."

Monkeying around and invading their home also puts a strain on the zookeepers and monkeys' relationship.

“It takes years to build trust with these animals and for someone to come in there for five minutes for a video on Instagram or whatever just ruins years of work,” Kleist said. “It's going to take a long time to get them back to where they were and training."

The zoo director told ABC-7 that they do plan on pressing charges and will look at installing cameras and modifying the fences to ensure this never happens again. 

Article Topic Follows: El Paso

Rachel Phillips

JC Navarrete

El Paso native JC Navarrete co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend newscasts and reports during the week.

Jim Parker

Jim Parker is the Director of Digital Content for ABC-7.

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