Texas Lady Climbs Into Zoo Exhibit To Hand Feed Spider Monkeys Hot Cheetos

KVIA ABC-7/Youtube

Video footage showed the woman entering the enclosed area to feed the animals Hot Cheetos

In today’s edition of “things you should never even think about doing,” video footage of an El Paso litigation assistant named Lucy Rae entering an enclosed area at the El Paso Zoo to hand feed Hot Cheetos to two spider monkeys is going viral. Yes, you read that right. Rae really tried to feed the spider monkeys (named Libby and Sunday) extremely spicy human snacks, with zoo officials calling her “stupid and lucky” for walking away unscathed.

“This young lady decided to hop a fence, climb through some bushes, drop down into a four-feet deep moat, walk across the moat and then try to feed the spider monkeys,” the zoo’s director Joe Montisano told a local El Paso ABC affiliate after zoo officials received the video of her trespassing beneath a waterfall and entering the spider monkey exhibit.

“It was stupid. She knew what she was doing was wrong. She’s very fortunate that it didn’t have a worse outcome for her or the animals,” said Montisano. “These are primates. They are strong; they have canine teeth. They can scratch. We don’t interact with them on the daily. And we don’t interact with them without a barrier in between us.”

Not only could she have been seriously injured when attempting to interact with literal spider monkeys, hand feeding them Hot Cheetos could have been extremely problematic for their own health. Zookeeper Mason Kleist told ABC-7 that Libby and Sunday eat a specialized diet, and human food could cause stomach and bowel issues for them.

The interaction could have also given the monkeys COVID-19, with Kleist adding, “Anything that we have they could get as well so COVID is no different. 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.”

And in yet another reason why physically interacting with wild animals at a zoo exhibit is an awful idea, Kleist noted that “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,” adding, “It’s going to take a long time to get them back to where they were and training.”

The woman has been fired from her job at El Paso’s Lovett Law Firm and the zoo plans to press charges, along with considering adding more cameras and higher barriers to prevent something like this from happening again. As for Libby and Sunday’s well-being, Montisano told Newsweek that “the spider monkeys are fine. Maybe a little shaken up by the incident but they are fine,” noting that “it is still unclear if they actually ate any. From the video, they were more disturbed with her being there than concerned with the food.”