Pet monkey quarantined after attack

'Mookie' reportedly bit man on shin when startled

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. - A 19-year-old pet monkey is on house arrest after he bit a man on Merritt Island during the weekend, officials said.

The white-faced Capuchin monkey, Mookie, is quarantined at owner Brad Berman's home until he can be cleared of all viruses by a veterinarian, officials said.

"He'll be upset he's stressed now. He was crying all night last night," said Berman. "He means a lot. How often to get to have a pet for 20 years? And I've had him since he was a baby."

The bite happened Saturday near a convenience store just west of the Cocoa Beach Causeway on Merritt Island.

The couple asked and began petting the monkey, officials said.

"Everyone was enjoying it and then someone drove up in a car and he got startled," Berman said. "Then he bit the guy which is unusual because he's never bitten anybody."

The 32-year-old man, identified by officials as Justin Debree, could not be reached for comment.

Berman said he apologized to the couple and told them Mookie had never bitten anyone before.

Though the animal is low-risk to carry rabies, officials ordered the 30-day quarantine to be sure he doesn't show symptoms, which falls on his 20th birthday.

"We were going to have a big birthday celebration in the back yard with the dinosaurs and now he's incarcerated," Berman said.

Berman said he has a permit from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to keep the monkey as a pet and said his animal doesn't have rabies.

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