Pet Monkey Attacks Toddler

"They're unpredictable," says a zoo director

By Andrew Greiner
|  Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009  |  Updated 8:30 AM CDT
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Monkeys make bad pets.

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Primates make bad pets.

An Indiana toddler is recovering after being attacked by her uncle's monkey, according to the Northwest Indiana Times.

The monkey, Sammy, which belongs to Richard and Laura Burlos of LaPorte, reached out of its cage and grabbed the hood of 10-month-old Brenna Nystrom, who was being held by her grandmother.

Then Sammy let go of her hood and started pulling her hair.

While the rest of the family panicked, Laura Berlos reached into Sammy’s cage, grabbed the monkey and forced it to let little Brenna go.

The Berlos are allowed to own the monkey because Indiana is one of the few states that doesn’t require a special permit for the animals. Local animal control is aware of the animal and have visited the Berlos’ home numerous times.

That doesn’t stop experts from questioning the wisdom of having a monkey as a pet.

“They have that look of being nice and friendly, but they don't stay that way," Jamie Huss, assistant director of the Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City told the Times.  "They're unpredictable. I'd never have one as a pet.”

Huss speculated that Brenna was attacked because monkeys are territorial. Sammy might not have liked having the baby so close to its cage. Sammy may also have been lonely, she told NWI.

Doctors say Brenna will be fine. She was released from the hospital with bruising and rope burns from her hood string on her neck.

Earlier this year a the pet-chimpanzee of a Connecticut woman tore the face and hands off of one of her friends. The victim, Charla Nash, who made an appearance on Oprah this month, is severly disfigured from the attack.

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