Saturday, October 30, 2004

Makiki man cited for
illegal monkey

He is fined $1,000 for not having
the required permit

A 52-year-old Makiki man who bought a squirrel monkey from the co-owner of Blue Tropix nightclub has been cited and fined $1,000 for possession of a restricted animal without a permit.

Peter Hernandez's house was stormed Oct. 7 by a team of police Specialized Services Division officers. Agents of the state departments of Agriculture and Attorney General seized the monkey.

Darren Tsuchiya, co-owner of Blue Tropix, was also cited Oct. 8 for failing to comply with bond conditions required for the possession of a primate, and fined $200. His $1,000 bond for the monkey was forfeited.

The brown squirrel monkey was the 2-year-old offspring of one of the monkeys on display at the Blue Tropix nightclub, said Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Janelle Saneishi.

The monkey was found in Hernandez's home in a large cage with perch areas, ample toys, food and water dishes, and a goblet supposedly used as a toilet, said lead agriculture investigator Domingo Cravalho Jr.

Cravalho said the monkey was in apparent good health.

Because he cooperated, Hernandez was not arrested, merely ticketed.

Cravalho said SWAT team members were used in the raid because Hernandez had four firearms registered to him.

Agents noted that the entrances to the dilapidated house were barricaded, but Hernandez told agents he was concerned about someone stealing his music memorabilia.

Agents were tipped off by confidential informants who knew the monkey was kept in the kitchen.

The confiscated monkey will be brought to the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo on the Big Island, after the state veterinarian examines him and he is inoculated for tuberculosis.

Tsuchiya said: "Anyone can own a monkey if they follow the proper guidelines. I told him (Hernandez) what to do and apparently he did not listen."

Hernandez said: "I made a mistake. I paid the fine and I just want to go on with my life."

State rules require the new owner to acquire a permit and bond before the animal is sold or given away.

Tsuchiya was issued a permit in February 2002 to possess the monkey, but sold it in May 2002.

Whenever a restricted animal is sold or given away, the owner must notify the Agriculture Department, and Tsuchiya failed to do so, Saneishi said.

The one male and two female squirrel monkeys are kept behind glass at Blue Tropix, which was found to be in compliance with state law. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has yet to issue an exhibitor's license to the club. Tsuchiya said he is waiting for the inspector to arrive from the mainland.



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