NEW YORK – A man smuggled a monkey onto an airplane Tuesday, stashing the furry fist-size primate under his hat until passengers spotted it perched on his ponytail, an airline official said.
The monkey escapade began in Lima, Peru, late Monday, when the man boarded a flight to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said Spirit Airlines spokeswoman Alison Russell. After landing Tuesday morning, the man waited several hours before catching a connecting flight to LaGuardia Airport.
During the flight, people around the man noticed that the marmoset, which normally lives in forests and eats fruit and insects, had emerged from underneath his hat, Russell said.
"Other passengers asked the man if he knew he had a monkey on him," she said.
The monkey spent the remainder of the flight in the man's seat and behaved well, said Russell, who didn't know how it skirted customs and security.
Airport police were waiting for the man and his monkey when the plane landed about 3 p.m., and the man was taken away for questioning. It was unclear if he would face any criminal charges.
The city's animal control agency said the monkey appeared healthy. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was planning to take it for disease testing and keep it quarantined for 31 days, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said.
If the monkey is healthy it could wind up in a zoo.
Russell, the airline spokeswoman, said she didn't know the monkey's name, but she quickly thought of one.
"It is kind of a spirited monkey," she said. "That will be the nickname of the monkey: Spirit."