ROCKVILLE, Md. – A Maryland woman who refers to a pet monkey as her baby won't be getting him back anytime soon.
Police were right last month to take the capuchin monkey, named Armani, because he did not live with the woman before May 2006, the state's cutoff date for having such a pet, the Montgomery County Animal Matters Hearing Board ruled.
Elyse Gazewitz argued that she owned Armani at that time, but panel members said they believed veterinary and zoo reports that the monkey is only 5 months old.
"They don't care," Gazewitz said Wednesday after the board's decision late Tuesday. "He's just a monkey to them. To me, he's everything. My life is miserable."
Gazewitz, 42, dressed Armani in Huggies diapers — with holes cut out for his tail — and infant outfits. They also watched television together as part of their morning routine.
Police officers found Armani in good health but seized him because laws designed to protect public health prohibit monkeys and other wild animals to be kept as pets.
Gazewitz's attorney, Anne Benaroya, said she will appeal the ruling, adding that she eventually expects to take Gazewitz's case to the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state's highest court.
Gazewitz, a pet groomer, must continue to pay $1,344 in monthly boarding fees for Armani while any appeal is pending, Benaroya said.
Meantime, the four-pound, 18-inch brown and black capuchin will remain at the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo in Frederick County, where officials say he watches DVD movies like "Madagascar" with other monkeys and interacts with keepers.
"He's doing great," said June Bellizzi, the Catoctin zoo's acting director. "He eats well. He watches movies. He chats."
Bellizzi said the monkey is no longer wearing diapers or infant clothes.