SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - A volunteer at the Zoological Wildlife Foundation Center said she has been barred from resuming her duties there after she was bitten by a monkey at the facility.
“I was literally like ‘All right, I need to pull my hand out, or I’m going to lose my finger. I know I’m going to lose my finger,'” said the former volunteer, who wanted to conceal her identity. “When I saw her canine latch into my skin, like, I saw it inside my skin, I was like, ‘Oh, no.'”
The 21-year-old self-described “animal lover” said she had been volunteering at ZWF in Southwest Miami-Dade for almost two months and had gotten close to many of their animals.
“I handled the animals with no problem. I never had an issue, never been in trouble there,” she said. “As I was playing with [the monkey], perfectly fine, she got possessive over a paper that she had taken from me. I tried to get it back and she latched onto my finger.”
On Tuesday, Miami-Dade Police and Florida Fish and the Wildlife Conservation Commission were called to the center on Southwest 172nd Avenue after the volunteer said she was bitten by a 9-year-old Brazilian Tufted Capuchin monkey.
“I’m flipping out. I have no idea what to do. I’m in the office, pacing, crying, walking back and forth waiting for my friend to get there because no one’s there. Everyone’s already left,” said the former volunteer.
MDPD said they received the call around 6:30 p.m. from less than a mile away from the incident. The volunteer was driven by a friend to Krome Avenue and Southwest 168th Street before she called 911.
“And only because my best friend who was driving said, ‘Hey, maybe you should call an ambulance. They could probably get you [to the hospital] faster,'” she said.
The woman was taken to the hospital while MDPD investigated the situation. She was not given stitches for the bite but was prescribed antibiotics because the hospital was unsure if the bite would get infected.
When she returned to ZWF to retrieve the animal’s records, she said the facility told her she could no longer volunteer with them because she broke protocol. She said she was unaware of such protocol.
“The owner informed us today, now, after everything, after my two months of being there, that the protocol would be to call him — that I should have never left the property,” she said. “How was I supposed to know that? How was I supposed to know that I wasn’t supposed to leave the property. My finger could be super infected, could be dangling off, and I have to stay at the property to wait for you.”
“They had no problem when I had to clean up the poop of those animals, but you know, since I got bitten now it’s something,” said the former volunteer.
Despite the incident, she still plans to pursue a career as a wildlife veterinarian.
She hopes ZWF will make improvements to ensure the same won’t happen to others.
“I want them to be a little bit smarter about the way they go about things,” she said. “If you own a zoo, you should have protocols. We have lions and tigers and wolves. I know it’s a lot to handle. It’s a lot to have animals, but they need to hire more people.”
FWC said they didn’t find any violations after investigating, and the monkey will not be removed.
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