GALVESTON, Texas – A woman who was bitten by a monkey at Moody Gardens is denying that she provoked the attack.
The woman from Harris County, who didn’t want KHOU 11 News to use her name, says she never touched the monkey.
"They jumped me. They just jumped me," she said. "They bit. And I didn’t want to throw him off because I was afraid he would rip my hair off."
A witness said the woman grabbed the monkey, and that’s when it bit her on the hand.
"What mostly likely happened is a guest got too close, decided she wanted to grab the animal," said Gregg Whittaker, the animal husbandry manager. "The animal spun around and bit the woman. The other cotton top that’s part of the group here came to his defense and kind of jumped on her head."
The tiny monkey and its father are now quarantined.
The cotton-top tamarins are part of a Rainforest Pyramid exhibit that allows visitors to experience close encounters with 225 types of animals, including some that roam free.
The monkeys have been on display since 2004 and this is the first report of a problem. In that time period, 6- to 8-million people have visited Moody Gardens.
There are fewer than 6,000 cottontop tamarins in the wild. We're told by experts that they are extremely frightful animals and their instinct is to flee, not fight.
The monkeys must be quarantined for 30 days, according to state law. They have not been vaccinated for rabies because the vaccine doesn't work on monkeys.