Texas woman fired after climbing into monkey enclosure, feeding them Flamin' Hot Cheetos

Woman feeding cheetos to monkey
Woman feeding cheetos to monkey Photo credit: Instagram @fitfamelpaso

A Texas woman has been fired after she was caught climbing into a monkey enclosure to feed them Flamin' Hot Cheetos.

A video taken at the El Paso Zoo, shared to Instagram over the weekend, shows the woman inside the spider monkey enclosure. 

The footage captures her beside a waterfall in the primate's enclosure, feeding something to two of the monkeys, named Libby and Sunday. She then wades through a moat to exit the exhibit. 

The video's caption suggests the food she gave them was Flamin' Hot Cheetos.

A Facebook post on May 24, made by Nora Artalejo Lovett, from the law firm that employed her, stated: “The firm has always been a strong supporter of animals and animal advocacy. We absolutely do not condone this irresponsible and reckless behaviour."

The post also wished the monkeys a swift recovery from the “very traumatic experience.”

Zoo staff who found out about the incident through social media called the woman's actions "stupid" and have stated they plan to press charges. 

The zoo did not confirm if the food given to the monkeys was the popular American snack. 

El Paso Zoo director Joe Montisano told the El Paso Times: "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."

Montisano said the enclosure where the monkeys are living is surrounded by a moat to keep the animals in and a low fence to keep people visiting out. He said that the enclosure is common for monkey exhibits, but might now need to be altered. 

Zookeeper Mason Kleist told KVIA-TV that the woman put the monkeys at risk not only because of the food she fed them, but because she could have spread COVID-19 to the primates. 

He added her actions sets back what progress the work trainers have accomplished with the monkeys. 

"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 told the station.

In 2019, a US woman climbed over a fence at a Brox zoo to approach a lion.