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Woman who jumped the barrier into spider monkey enclosure at El Paso Zoo arrested for trespassing 

Luz Rae, 26, has been charged with criminal trespassing after allegedly jumping into a spider monkey enclosure at the El Paso Zoo

A woman who was caught on video jumping over a barrier to feed Hot Cheetos to spider monkeys in a zoo enclosure has been arrested.

Luz Elizabeth Rae, 26, was booked on Thursday morning for criminal trespassing, the El Paso Police Department announced. She was taken to the El Paso County Detention Facility on $1,500 bond.

In a video that went viral online, Rae can be seen getting up-close-and-personal with two of the spider monkeys at the El Paso Zoo, Libby and Sunday. 

She then feeds something to the spider monkeys, later identified as Hot Cheetos.

‘She was attempting to feed them Hot Cheetos, [but], it is still unclear if they actually ate any,’ Joe Montisano, director of the zoo, told Newsweek. ‘From the video, they were more disturbed with her being there than concerned with the food,’ he said of the monkeys.

At the end of the video, someone in a blue shirt helps pull her out of the enclosure.

Rae, a litigation assistant, was identified by ABC-7 as the woman behind the barrier; the footage was taken sometime over the weekend and posted by Fit Fam El Paso to Instagram last Sunday. 

Although after the footage went viral, Lovett Law Firm in Texas where Rae used to work fired her, she appears to have picked up a new gig at the Mark Davis Law Firm.

On Tuesday, Mark Davis reposted the statement from Lovett Law Firm on Facebook, writing, ‘Shame on you and your cancel culture attitude!’

Davis went on to bash the rival law firm before referring to Rae as ‘my new paralegal.’ ‘She was jobless because of your hatefulness, now a proud member of my law firm,’ Davis wrote.   

A woman is in big trouble after she was spotted in an enclosure at the El Paso Zoo this weekend

Pictured: Luz Rae, who has been identified as the woman in the viral video

Pictured: Luz Rae, who has been identified as the woman in the viral video

Staff at the El Paso Zoo were not aware of what had taken place until seeing the video after the fact.  

Montisano called the woman ‘stupid and lucky’ in comments to ABC-7.

‘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,’ Montisano told the El Paso Times

Spider monkeys are typically between 14-26 inches long and around 13.25 pounds, according to National Geographic. It’s not clear the exact size of these monkeys. They are ‘usually agitated by human contact,’ NatGeo says. 

They can become violent toward humans, according experts at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio.

In addition to putting herself at risk, Rae also endangered the monkeys by changing their diet and potentially exposing them to COVID-19. 

Luz Rae went over a barrier to go into the spider monkey enclosure

Luz Rae went over a barrier to go into the spider monkey enclosure

Once there, Rae (hidden by the waterfall) fed the two spider monkeys Hot Cheetos

Once there, Rae (hidden by the waterfall) fed the two spider monkeys Hot Cheetos

The zoo blasted her for potentially exposing the monkeys to dangers such as COVID-19

The zoo blasted her for potentially exposing the monkeys to dangers such as COVID-19

‘Anything that we have they could get as well, so COVID is no different,’ said zookeeper Mason Kleist to ABC-7. ‘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.’

Kleist additionally expressed frustration about how the actions in the video could affect the training it takes to get the monkeys to cooperate with the zoo’s staff.

‘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 said.

‘It’s going to take a long time to get them back to where they were and training.’

Montisano did tell Newsweek after the incident that Sunday and Libby are doing well.

After she allegedly fed the monkeys, the woman made a quick exit from the enclosure

After she allegedly fed the monkeys, the woman made a quick exit from the enclosure

Still, she was able to be identified by 'six to eight people' as soon as Sunday

Still, she was able to be identified by ‘six to eight people’ as soon as Sunday

She was pulled to safety without being harmed, but the zoo is looking at pressing charges

She was pulled to safety without being harmed, but the zoo is looking at pressing charges

‘The spider monkeys are fine,’ Montisano said. ‘Maybe a little shaken up by the incident, but they are fine.’

After the video went viral, the Lovett Law Firm distanced itself from Rae’s actions.

Rae is also facing consequences from her former employer

Rae is also facing consequences from her former employer

‘We learned this morning that that individual who was trespassing the spider monkey exhibit at the zoo was an employee and she was terminated immediately,’ Rob Lovett said. 

Lovett added, ‘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.’ 

Montisano told the Times that the zoo received numerous calls about the woman in the video on Sunday.

‘Your friends will rat you out in a heartbeat,’ Montisano said. ‘We had about six to eight people call on Sunday. I know more about this young lady than I do about my own daughter probably.’

The zoo planned on pressing charges against Rae for violating their security protocol.  

The Lovett Law Firm announced they terminated 'an employee' after she was identified in the video. Rae was a litigation assistant at the firm prior to her dismissal

The Lovett Law Firm announced they terminated ‘an employee’ after she was identified in the video. Rae was a litigation assistant at the firm prior to her dismissal

Pictured: Luz Rae, the woman in the viral video

Pictured: Luz Rae, the woman in the viral video

The zoo plans to alter the fences and install new security cameras to aim to prevent incidents like this in the future.

‘We’ve increased our patrols and have volunteers to watch more closely. But we might have to increase the fence size which will block the view,’ Montisano said. 

The Times details that this is not the first security incident at the zoo in recent months.

In March, another viral video showed a parent lowering their child on to the wrong side of the barrier of a chimpanzee exhibit, although not where the animals in the exhibit resided.

It’s unlikely that Rae will face additional charges, such as for animal cruelty.

‘Under the Texas penal code, it does not look like it is anything more serious than a criminal trespassing,’ attorney Justin Underwood told KFOX14.

‘In this case, there is no evidence that she maltreated them or fed them poison. So, I don’t believe there would be sufficient evidence [for animal cruelty],’ added attorney Matthew James Kozik.


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