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A Texas woman may face criminal charges after she was filmed climbing into a monkey habitat at an El Paso zoo and feeding Hot Cheetos to two spider monkeys.
The woman, identified by KVIA as Lucy Rae, giggles as she tosses the red-hot junk food at the monkeys named Libby and Sunday, according to the footage posted on social media.
“This is (unfortunately) real: A local woman crossed into the spider monkey enclosure at the @elpasozoo today and fed them … Hot Cheetos,” the Instagram post reads.
Rae is facing a potential misdemeanor criminal trespassing charge for her wild caught-on-camera stunt Saturday, cops told The Post on Tuesday.
“The El Paso Police Department is investigating a case involving a woman who trespassed into a monkey enclosure at the El Paso Zoo,” police spokesman Sgt. Enrique Carrillo wrote in an email to The Post.
Anyone found guilty of trespassing in El Paso faces up to a $2,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail, he said.
Rae’s employer, meanwhile, also isn’t monkeying around.
The Lovett Law Firm, where Rae worked as a litigation assistant, fired her after footage of the disturbing incident surfaced online.
“The firm has always been a strong supporter of animals and animal advocacy,” the company headquartered in El Paso said in a statement Monday. “We absolutely do not condone this irresponsible and reckless behavior.”
The video, which had been viewed more than 144,000 times as of early Tuesday, prompted many jeers online.
“Any other city: feeds them bananas,” one reply read. “El Paso: Feeds them Hot Cheetos.”
Another claimed Rae’s reckless actions are why El Paso “can’t have nice things,” while one critic went so far as to suggest she “belongs in the zoo” herself.
The zoo’s director, Joe Montisano, told KVIA that Rae was “stupid and lucky” she didn’t get hurt during her unsavory adventure. He said Sunday the zoo planned to press charges in the incident.
Montisano confirmed to Newsweek that Rae was trying to feed the monkeys Hot Cheetos, but the primates were not hurt — although it’s unclear if they actually ate the unapproved snacks.
“From the video, they were more disturbed with her being there than concerned with the food,” Montisano said.
A zookeeper, meanwhile, told KVIA that Rae also put the monkeys at risk of catching the coronavirus.
“Anything that we have, they could get as well, so COVID is no different,” zookeeper Mason 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.”
The zoo plans to install security cameras and adjust fencing around the enclosure to prevent a repeat occurrence.
“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.
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