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Someone's Pet Monkey Bit a Kid at an Italian Restaurant in Florida

This might just ruin one couple's recurring Monday evenings on the Carrabba's patio with their Capuchin monkey, JoJo.

by Jelisa Castrodale
Aug 24 2018, 9:59pm

Photo via Flickr user alaporte

Look, you don’t have to be an outdated cartoon cat to know that Mondays absolutely blow. Everyone copes with the beginning of the work week differently: some of us force a smile for eight hours while simultaneously screaming internally, some of us just endure it, jaws clenched in grim determination, and some of us say “Screw it,” put a diaper on our pet monkey and take it out for pasta.

Richard and Mary Van Houten are frequent customers at the Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Stuart, Florida, and enjoy spending Monday evenings on the patio with their Capuchin monkey, JoJo. (Because nothing makes, like, an order of Fettuccine Weesie more satisfying than having to swat a small primate away from your plate).

On one of the Van Houten’s Monkey Mondays, 8-year-old Jaxson Ignelzi and his dad, Joseph, were seated at a table beside them. Joseph reached over to pet the monkey, as did Jaxson. According to TC Palm, the Van Houtens warned the boy that JoJo was “hyper” and warned him to be careful—and that’s juuust about when the monkey grabbed Jaxson’s finger and bit it. CHECK, PLEASE.

Jaxson was taken to a local hospital, where his bitten pinkie was cleaned, and he was given a couple of Tylenol. Meanwhile, the Van Houtens were learning how many different agencies have to investigate a monkey bite, and are probably wondering whether frozen meals might be the way to go from now on. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Martin County Health Department all weighed in, issuing citations and ordering that the monkey remain quarantined in the Van Houtens’ home until she could be examined.

A report from FWC said that Van Houten told the Ignelzis that the monkey was caught up on her shots—but that wasn’t entirely true. (It is, however, the absolute worst conversation starter you can have with a stranger). JoJo was overdue for a rabies shot, but was later given a clean bill of health from a veterinarian.

TC Palm says that the city of Stuart has a so-called “doggie dining” law that allows dogs to join their owners in outdoor seating areas at restaurants and hotels. The law does not mention—or restrict—any animal other than dogs, and apparently no one questioned whether it was a good idea to allow an admittedly “hyper” monkey at a chain restaurant.

“The decision to allow a non-service animal on our patio violated policy and we are taking the appropriate disciplinary action,” Elizabeth Watts, a spokesperson for Carrabba’s parent company, Bloomin Brands, told MUNCHIES. “We hate that this happened and expressed that to the family involved while reinforcing our policy to all locations so we ensure that we learn from this incident.”

The Van Houtens were issued a number of citations, including one relating to JoJo’s overdue rabies shot. The FWC also inspected the couple’s other three monkeys and they were warned about keeping inaccurate records for one of those animals. At some point, they will have to appear in county court to deal with their citations.

And maybe it’s for the best if JoJo’s skips the next few Monday night Carrabba’s outings. At least until… forever.