Mookie, the Merritt Island monkey that was on house arrest after biting a man on Sept. 29, finished serving the 30 days of house arrest on Monday.
Local 6 news partner Florida Today reports Brevard County Animal Services workers lifted the quarantine Monday, which was placed to verify that the monkey did not have rabies.
“Usually he’s up and down that like five times,” Mookie’s owner, Brad Berman, told Florida Today as he motioned to a tree in the backyard of his Merritt Island home. “But he’s cold and he’s nervous. It’s his first time out. He’s like a jailbird. Experiencing freedom for the first time.”
The monkey spent the last month behind teal-painted bars, playing with paint rollers and a beanbag gorilla toy. Berman also hosted a birthday party for the Capuchin monkey on its 20th birthday during the house arrest. Family members gathered and shared cheese pizza — “he doesn’t like pepperoni,” Berman said — and vanilla-frosted cake with Mookie’s picture on it.
According to Florida Today, Berman said having Mookie in quarantine — and the uncertainty about what would happen at the end of the 30-day period — has him worried about taking the monkey back out in public. He said he got a call from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on Monday confirming that Berman has a permit to own Mookie.
“I’m still a little gun-shy now, because a lot of people try and sneak up,” he said. Berman said a squealing car scared Mookie before he bit the man on the leg last month, “I just don’t want people getting that close. ... We’re just going to gradually reintroduce him back out. Mostly stay away from people."