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A woman has spoken out after she faced intense backlash for climbing into a zoo enclosure to 'feed animals Cheetos'. Check out the footage here:
This time last year, a 37-second video of Lucy Rae at El Paso Zoo, in Texas, US, went viral.
However, Rae maintains she 'did not do anything wrong'.
Rae told ABC-7 she was 'shocked' she had been recorded and 'gone viral' for hopping into the spider monkey's enclosure.
"I don’t think I did anything wrong. I didn’t do anything wrong. I did not hurt anyone," she said.
Rae's attorney, Mark T. Davis, has similarly argued that 'no animal was ever abused' by his client's actions.
Despite signposts prohibiting guests from feeding the animals and zoo officials noting the monkeys' strict diet, Davis referenced other videos online showing monkeys enjoying 'popcorn' and 'beer'.
However, Dr. Victoria Milne, who has over 16 years experience working with spider monkeys, has claimed the animals were 'actually really upset' even though people may look at the video and 'see a monkey making noise and jumping around' as being 'really cute and fun'.
While a few Cheetos likely did not cause much harm to the animals, Dr Milne said the most significant offence committed by Rae was the disruption she caused for the primates.
She said: "Just having people jump in and do whatever they feel like can be really disruptive for those animals on the short-term and really unhealthy and unsafe for those animals in the long-term."
Rae argued there was no sign that said visitors weren't allowed to go into the enclosure.
Dr Milne responded: "In the society we live in, in general, a fence without a gate is a barrier that means you’re not supposed to go in there."
As a result of her actions and the widespread footage, Rae was 'terminated' from her job at Lovett Law Firm. She was also arrested for criminal trespass by El Paso police.
The case is still open, according to a police spokesperson.
A spokesperson from the zoo has said that as the case is under litigation, Rae has not been banned from the facility and that no action will be taken until the case is resolved.
Rae's lasting reflection on the incident was: "I learned just keep the Cheetos to myself. I can’t share."
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