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Monkey smuggling: Don't try this at home

December 10, 2008 |  3:32 pm

Baby Rhesus Monkey We'd be lying if we said it had never occurred to us that it'd be neat to have a baby monkey around the house.

Of course, we'd never do more than think about keeping a monkey as a pet.  (First, because we know exotic pets are a big no-no, especially with so many homeless dogs and cats out there.  And second, because ABC's prime-time special "The Dark Side of the Monkey Business" really freaked us out!) 

But two Washington women went to a bizarre extreme to make their pet-monkey dreams a reality -- they tried to smuggle a baby rhesus macaque from Thailand into the U.S.  Their method?  Tranquilizing the monkey and hiding it under one woman's loose-fitting clothing to make her appear pregnant.  CNN reports:

Gypsy Lawson, 28, and her mother, Fran Ogren, 56, were convicted of smuggling and conspiracy to smuggle the monkey in violation of the Endangered Species Act and other federal laws...

Authorities found journals and handwritten notes describing the mother and daughter's attempts to find a monkey small enough to smuggle back to the United States. The journal also described the pair's "acquisition of a small monkey and their experimenting with different medicines to sedate the monkey for their journey home," [U.S. Attorney James McDevitt's] office said.

Authorities also found photographs of Lawson at two airports and on an airplane in which she is wearing loose-fitting clothing and appears to be pregnant.

"The journal confirms that she and her mother smuggled the monkey into the United States by hiding it under her shirt, pretending she was pregnant in order to get past authorities," the statement from McDevitt's office said.

Lawson and Ogren are scheduled to be sentenced March 3.  They could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The monkey was taken to a sanctuary for abandoned primates.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Associated Press

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