HIDALGO, Texas—Officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations (OFO) at the Hidalgo International Bridge usually discover prohibited items or merchandise during their day-to-day operations but recently they found a small spider monkey allegedly being smuggled into the U.S.
“Finding this monkey is certainly unusual but not a first for our officers at Hidalgo,” said Port Director Carlos Rodriguez, Port of Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas. “Our officers normally discover prohibited agriculture products, merchandise, currency, weapons and narcotics but on occasion they encounter people attempting to smuggle exotic animals as well.”
On June 23, a 23-year-old man, a U.S. citizen from Pharr, Texas arrived at the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge in a white 2015 Ford F-150 pickup truck and a CBP officer referred him for further inspection. Officers conducting the secondary inspection discovered a young spider monkey hidden inside the center console and cautiously removed it, placing it in an animal container.
CBP OFO contacted U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and an agent arrived to assess the situation. USFWS determined this animal was a spider monkey (Ateles sp.). Spider Monkeys are considered New World monkeys which are found in tropical forests of Central and South America, including southern Mexico and are considered endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
USFWS took custody of the monkey, which will be quarantined pending final disposition, which could include being donated to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas.