Complaint forced state to take animal raised from birth by Laconia couple
By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — "It was like taking a family member out of the house," said Conservation Officer Chris Brison of the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department, after removing a patas monkey from a local household on Monday where it was kept illegally. "it was devastating to the family and terrible for all of us.," he said.
State law prohibits the keeping of many species of wild animals — amphibians, reptiles, fish and mammals, including all primates, — without a permit, which for most mammals and all primates are granted only to those who exhibit them in licensed enclosures. Brison said that the monkey's owners, Penny Dessalines, 47, and Burnie Johnson, 51, of 33 Roller Coaster Road have been charged with a violation, which carries a fine of up to $1,000.
Brison said that the couple acquired the monkey as an infant four or five years ago and thinking it was a female called it "Bella," but as it matured discovered it was a male. He said that two years ago he received a complaint and advised the couple they were in violation of the law and urged them to place the monkey in an appropriate setting. They left the state, taking the monkey with them, but later returned to New Hampshire with the monkey. After receiving an anonymous tip he executed a search warrant and removed the monkey from the home.
"It's a wild animal and should be treated as such," Brison stressed. He said that the monkey had a crate, but often was loose in the home,where he played with two children and interacted with the family dog. However, he noted that as the monkey reached maturity it was becoming more aggressive.
Initially the monkey was taken to Dr. Michael Dutton, a veterinarian in Weare experienced in caring for exotic animals, who examined him and drew a blood sample. Brison said that the monkey appeared to be in "good condition."
Afterwards the monkey was moved to an undisclosed location while officials of the Fish & Game Department began seeking to place him in an appropriate, permanent home. "We're looking at a bunch of options," Brison said. "We don't deal with monkeys very often. They require special care and attention. " He said the department was seeking a facility accustomed to primates where the monkey could be with others of his own kind.
Patas, also known as wadi or hussar, monkeys are a reddish brown with a white chest and black brow. They range across a belt in central Africa, south of the Sahara Desert and north of the central rainforest, from Senegal in the west to near Ethiopia in the east. They are terrestrial animals, living on the ground in troops of 60 or more on savannas and semi-desert regions. At maturity they are 33 inches long with a tail stretching another 30 inches. With long limbs, pat as monkeys are the fastest among all primates, capable of running 43 miles per hour. They are omnivores, feeding on insects and animal remains as well as seeds and tubers.