Charges filed against owner of monkey that bit Madison County boy

News-DemocratAugust 26, 2013 

The owner of a monkey that bit a child earlier this summer will face misdemeanor charges.

Kendra Hougland of Alton faces three charges of unlawful possession of a primate, a class C misdemeanor. Hougland was the owner of Nina, a female java macaque that bit a 6-year-old boy at a public event in Godfrey on June 2.

The charges were filed Monday by Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons.

The boy's family opted for him to go through rabies treatment rather than force the animal to be tested, which would have required euthanasia.

The state temporarily placed Nina with a private citizen who is permitted to care for primates, but the guardian then sent the monkey to Indiana without permission. Gibbons then received the court's permission to take custody of the monkey and turn it over to the St. Louis Zoo. The court also ordered that Gibbons keep Hougland apprised of Nina's whereabouts so that she could visit her former pet.

The zoo has now placed Nina with a primate refuge in Kentucky, which will be her permanent home, according to Gibbons' office.

Hougland could face penalties ranging from fines to 30 days in jail. In a statement, Gibbons said he plans to seek restitution for the child's medical costs and the state's costs in care for the monkey.

"This was a difficult situation," Gibbons said. "Nina is now in a place that is much better equipped to take care of her and her needs as a wild animal. I hope this case serves as a lesson to anyone who considers having a wild animal as a pet in their home."

Gibbons also thanked the St. Louis Zoo for its assistance.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 239-2507.

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