Pet monkey reunited with Homestead woman days after being stolen

HOMESTEAD, FLA. (WSVN) - A heartbroken pet owner has been reunited with her pet marmoset monkey, days after, police said, her neighbor swiped the animal from her home.

“I’m ecstatic, elated,” Vanessa Di Gennaro said. “I can’t even tell you. I’m happy she’s OK. She’s a little skinny.”

Di Gennaro said the 2-year-old white tufted marmoset monkey, whom she has owned since the animal was 1-month-old, is her emotional rock.

Vanessa Di Gennaro
Vanessa Di Gennaro

“Haven’t slept, haven’t really eaten, which is terrible in my pregnancy,” she said, “but I just really felt like I missed my other half. ”

She and Homestead Police said her neighbor, Oscar Leiva, snatched Zoe from her backyard.

Di Gennaro said she later called Leiva. “I spoke to the gentleman on the phone. He said he never saw a monkey. He never heard anything about a monkey, and then I received videos of the monkey within his home,” she said. “You can clearly see that she’s in his house, so then I called the police.”

Police arrested Leiva and charged him with grand theft. However, there was no sign of little Zoe.

Oscar Leiva
Oscar Leiva

At this point it is unknown where Zoe was found, but Di Gennaro is just happy to have her back home.

“I actually got an anonymous tip thanks to the news,” she said. “Someone called me and said, ‘Look, I saw your monkey on TV, and they tried to sell her to me.”

After the anonymous tip, Di Gennaro said, Hollywood Police were at her door with Zoe, within 30 minutes.

“They were trying to sell her, and they actually already had her sold,” Di Gennaro said.

Di Gennaro said she was convinced the animal had been sold to somebody else. “She’s my best friend. She goes everywhere with me,” she said.

Di Gennaro even posted a $2,000 reward sign outside her home because, to her, you can’t put a price on Zoe.

Di Gennaro said that another neighbor was the one who sent her video of Zoe apparently at Leiva’s home.

Police said Leiva remains behind bars, and his bond has been set at $5,000.

“I hope he gets what he deserves,” Di Gennaro said. “Honestly, I do. What he put her through, he could have killed her.”

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