6 min read

Cops Check Stolen Car — And Find The Saddest Surprise Inside

The little monkey was so scared 🙈

When deputies with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office opened the car door, they weren’t quite sure what they’d find. But when they looked inside, they were met with a troubling sight.

Clinging to the driver's pink polo shirt was a young monkey, wearing a diaper and attached to a leash.

He should have been with his family, but instead he had just survived an auto crash in a stolen car.

Pet Capuchin monkey gives his owner a hug
Facebook/Pasco Sheriff's Office

The tiny capuchin monkey became an unwilling passenger early last Friday when his 23-year-old owner, Cody Blake Hession, allegedly stole an unlocked car and crashed it into a ditch near Holiday, Florida.

According to Hession, the monkey, named "Monk," was purchased from a breeder in South Carolina, where the licensing of small primates, such as chimpanzees, lemurs, capuchins and marmosets, is not required by law. Hession says in police body cam footage that he cared for Monk for three years before moving to Florida.

In the video, as Monk climbs on his owner’s shoulders, the police inform Hession that owning a “Class III wildlife species” without a permit in Florida is considered a misdemeanor. But while it's only a minor legal offense to keep a wild animal locked away, for primates the psychological damage can last a lifetime.

Sadly, Monk's plight is far from unusual. The HSUS estimates there to be 15,000 primates currently kept as pets in the United States, and tens of thousands more kept by private owners around the world.

Often separated from their mothers at a very young age when they're at their "cutest," monkeys in the pet trade are deprived of the necessary years of maternal care. Isolated from a natural environment, and often from interaction with their own kind, these intelligent and social animals can suffer greatly, becoming bored, lonely, depressed and dangerously aggressive.

No matter how committed an owner is to a primate's welfare, their love is not enough to meet the mental, physical, social and psychological needs of these complex animals. 

In the video, as the cops question Hession, Monk is placed in the bed of a police truck, where he fiddles with an officer’s paperwork.

Hession is uncuffed so that he can say his goodbyes, and the monkey wraps his arms around his owner’s neck. Hession may not be Monk's mother, but for the last few years he was the person the little monkey depended on most.

Once their "hug" is over, Monk is put inside a dog carrier all alone, with no idea where he might be going or what dangers may lie ahead. Unfortunately, outcomes like this are common for monkeys, as primates kept as exotic pets are often uprooted multiple times in their lives, especially when owners grow tired of them or are unable to control them as adults.

Monkey clings to owner's shirt
Pasco Sheriff's Department

Staff with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) transferred Monk to the volunteer-run Suncoast Primate Sanctuary, billed as a place where former exotic pets and retired lab animals can live with dignity, according to a Facebook post by the local sheriff's office, but which has multiple welfare complaints on TripAdvisor and similar sites. With small, barren cages and little stimulation, the sanctuary does not seem to be much of an upgrade for the lonely monkey.

While Monk is now safe, and reportedly doing better, it's still unclear what his future might hold.