The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says a Texas woman and a Florida man have been convicted of cruelty to monkeys they dressed as pirates and brought onto Bourbon Street nine days before Mardi Gras.
Officials said James Wells Poole, 62, of St. Augustine, Fla., and Joan Susanne Newberger, 64, of Rio Hondo, Texas -- known as Joan Poole -- also were convicted Wednesday of lacking permits for the monkeys.
State wildlife agents confiscated the monkeys Feb. 26 after watching them touch people as part of a street act.
Civil District Judge Sean Early ordered Poole and Newberger to forfeit the monkeys to the state. The state will give them to the Louisiana Purchase Zoo and Gardens in Monroe, where they have been living.
Autistic woman demands return of monkeyswwltv.com
Posted on July 7, 2011 at 3:44 PM
Updated yesterday at 4:22 PM
NEW ORLEANS – An autistic woman and her husband returned to court Thursday, fighting to have the state return the monkeys the woman claims she needs as service animals because of her disability.
As Eyewitness News reported in February, Joan Newberger says the primates are her "service animals.”
They were confiscated during Mardi Gras by Dept. of Wildlife & Fisheries officials, who said the animals were illegally owned.
One of the four monkeys has died since it was taken from Newberger. The others are currently being kept at a zoo in Monroe. Newberger has been allowed visitation rights.
At a hearing which began Thursday, a New Orleans Municipal court judge must now decide whether the animals will be returned to the Florida couple.
The state claims Newberger did not have a permit for the animals and was on Bourbon St. accepting money from people in exchange for pictures with the monkeys.
The defense says the animals were allowed through the Americans with Disabilities Act.
More than a dozen witnesses are testifying in the case, speaking about the treatment of the animals, and whether they were used to make money.