OWENTON, Ky. - Audrey Lewis wasn’t sure if her grandfather had lost his mind or was joking when he called the family to say there was a monkey outside on his porch on March 21.
"We literally think nothing else of it," Lewis, 20, told FOX Television Stations Wednesday. "We literally thought he was just joking with us."
Lewis said her 73-year-old grandfather, who is perfectly sane but a jokester, then called other relatives on Monday and repeated the claim. Lewis and her mom went over to the grandfather’s house later that evening to investigate and saw the monkey firsthand.
"Sure enough, we got there. We weren’t even there for 10 minutes and my mom started freaking out," Lewis said.
The family wasn’t sure when the baby monkey first arrived. Lewis said the primate, which was later determined to be a girl, made herself comfortable on her grandfather’s second-story deck, which is surrounded by trees.
Lewis explained the next day, officers from Kentucky’s Department of Fish and Wildlife set up a trap to capture the monkey, but repeated attempts to contain the animal failed.
The family even allowed the monkey to roam inside the house until she opened the door and went back out onto the porch. Lewis said she started to bond with the monkey, mostly out of concern that officers would use some type of force to remove her.
Later that Tuesday, Lewis returned to her grandfather’s house with bananas and spent at least two hours with the monkey.
"I started out, by like, handing her a piece of the banana, and then all of a sudden, after I fed her about three of four pieces, she like comes over and just grab my finger and starts licking the banana off my finger, " she said.
The two bonded further after the monkey found some batteries outside and started handing them to Lewis. "And then all of sudden she was in my lap," she continued. "She, at that point, did not want me to leave her. She did not want me to get up. She didn’t want me to go back in the house."
Lewis said she grabbed a blanket and the monkey fell asleep in her lap. That was when she placed the monkey in the cage for officers to come and get her.
"It broke my heart to do," she explained.
Lewis said officers came and got the monkey and sent her to the Primate Rescue Center in Nicholasville. She added that no one knew who owned the monkey, saying no residents in the immediate area claimed ownership.
Kentucky state law makes it illegal to own a monkey as a pet, but some neighboring states allow them. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says certain monkeys carry human-transmissible diseases, but Lewis said she was told by officials that it wasn’t the case with the monkey her family encountered.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.