When a young man came to Jesus Hernandez's Fort Lauderdale home the other day to buy the marmoset monkey he'd been advertising online, he thought he was going to get $2,700 and say so long to 1-year-old Rafiki.
Instead, Hernandez tells New Times that the man identified himself as a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission agent, arrested him, and charged him with several misdemeanor crimes for illegally selling the monkey.
The problem, unbeknown to Hernandez, was that a permit is required to sell monkeys in Florida.
Hernandez had just posted this advertisement on backpage.com -- a classifieds website owned by New Times' parent company, Village Voice Media -- a few days before the FWC agent showed up to his place:
Friendly, Fun, easy to take care of, just put it on your shoulder and you can even take it out in public and its pet friendly we have cats and the monkey has no problem with them. I am selling the monkey because I just dont have time to spend with it along with the fact that I have been traveling alot there is no special diet for it it eats fruits vegetables almost anything. Asking $2700.00 but may negotiate. Contact me via email with Monkey in the subject line or call me
He says he purchased the monkey from a breeder in Pembroke Pines about a year ago and says the breeder told him he didn't need a license to buy the monkey.
Now Hernandez says he's cooperating with detectives to find said breeder, because she wouldn't be allowed by law to sell the monkey to anyone without a license.
Hernandez claims the breeder told him he needed a license only if he were to use the monkey for show, which he had no plans of doing.
He's facing some heavy fines for the misdemeanor charges when he has his court date in August, but he hopes they'll understand he had no idea about the necessity of a permit.
Hernandez says he's spent around $4,000 on Rafiki -- including all of his food and enclosure -- since buying him a year ago, so paying for the $50 permit wouldn't have been a problem if he'd known about it.
He says owning the monkey hasn't caused any problems for him over the past year -- except one incident in which he says his ex-girlfriend stole the monkey but eventually gave it back -- and he was just trying to do the right thing.
"I was just trying to finding the monkey a good home," Hernandez says. "It's a good monkey; it gets along with everybody."