Florida ‘Monkey Whisperer’ Is Charged With Illegal Animal Sales

Florida ‘Monkey Whisperer’ Is Charged With Illegal Animal Sales

Capuchin monkeys are small, boisterous and smelly. They “soak their hands and feet in urine to leave a scent,” according to the World Wildlife Federation. They are also smart. Researchers have said that the capuchin monkeys exhibit a level of intelligence, smartly selecting effective tools to help them crack open palm nuts for eating.

After the money was deposited in Mr. Hammond’s bank account, he had two people transport the animal, first to Nevada, then to California, according to the indictment. The animal was delivered to the buyer in October 2017, and law enforcement officials seized the animal from that buyer in January 2018, the indictment said. A month later, Mr. Hammond told law enforcement officials that he had sold the animal to a person in Nevada, which allows monkeys, according to the indictment.

In March 2016, Mr. Hammond sold a cotton-top tamarin — a small primate described by the federal government as critically endangered — to a person in Wisconsin, according to the indictment. In April 2017, he sold another one to a person in Alabama; and that October he sold two cotton-top tamarins to a person in South Carolina, the indictment said.

Cotton-top tamarins are one of the world’s tiniest primates. Though small, they are “big in hair and noisy,” with “a shock of white fur” around their skull, giving the appearance of an “Einsteinian Mohawk,” as once described in a New York Times article. The article playfully labeled them the “punks among monkeys” and said they make “gorgeous punk music, squealing, whistling, chirping, letting loose with slicing screams.”

In August 2020, Mr. Hammond tried to persuade one of his customers to falsely tell law enforcement officials that she had purchased cotton-top tamarins at a flea market, rather than from Mr. Hammond, according to the indictment.

According to prosecutors, this customer had bought the animals from Mr. Hammond and later returned them to him “with the intent to hinder, delay, and prevent” officials from learning about the transaction.

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