A viral video originally posted on the Instagram account @fitfamelpaso shows a woman doing something we should have all learned not to do around the time the word “Harambe” was trending: do NOT climb into a zoo enclosure. The footage was taken in an El Paso Zoo in Texas, and the woman identified as 26-year-old Luz Elizabeth Rae was booked into El Paso County Detention Facility not long after. On Thursday, her bail was set at $1,500.
Considering her crime, that’s not a whole lot of money. Rae went into the enclosure so she could get some video of herself feeding Flaming Hot Cheetos to two confused and trusting Spider Monkeys. Rae sits under a waterfall, obviously thinking she looks cute as the person behind the camera laughs. When she came out of the enclosure and the video went viral, Rae lost her job, which might make that bond harder to cover:
Zoo officials didn’t know about Rae trespassing in the enclosure until they saw the video on social media themselves, but they were quick to tell reporters that what Rae did was “stupid.”
“She’s very fortunate that it didn’t have a worse outcome for her or the animals,” Zoo Director Joe Montisano said to NBC News. “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.”
“This young lady decided to hop a fence, climb through some bushes, drop down into a four-foot deep moat, walk across the moat and then try to feed the spider monkeys,” he continued. “It was stupid.”
Zookeeper Mason Kleist said she endangered the monkeys, too, who have a strict diet and could even catch COVID from a person.
“These are primates we’re talking about. They could do some substantial damage to you,” Kleist told ABC 7. “They may be small monkeys, but they can take you to the ground if they wanted to.”
Zoo officials are planning to press charges and the El Paso Zoo may raise the height on fences around the exhibit and add some new surveillance cameras—not everyone records their crimes for viral fame.
Meanwhile, Houston-based Lovett Law Firm have a statement on firing Rae on Facebook:
“We learned this morning that the individual who was filmed trespassing in the spider monkey enclosure of the El Paso Zoo was an employee of Lovett Law Firm. She has been terminated. The firm has always been a strong supporter of animals and advocacy. We absolutely do not condone this irresponsible and reckless behavior. We support the El Paso Zoo and our thoughts go out to the spider monkeys, Libby and Sunday, and we hope they recover from this traumatic experience.”
Yes, in cuter news, the monkeys’ names are Libby and Sunday and they seem to be doing fine.