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Monkey scratch on daughter leads to mother's arrest

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A photo of Aladdin, the marmoset monkey, provided by Morales. A photo of Aladdin, the marmoset monkey, provided by Morales.
A picture of the scratch provided by Morales. A picture of the scratch provided by Morales.
Mariantonia Morales was arrested after her daughter was scratched by an illegal monkey. Mariantonia Morales was arrested after her daughter was scratched by an illegal monkey.
Morales was charged with risk of injury to a minor and owning an exotic pet. Morales was charged with risk of injury to a minor and owning an exotic pet.
WATERBURY, CT (WFSB) -

A mother in Waterbury was arrested for owning an illegal monkey that scratched her young daughter.

Mariantonia Morales was charged this week with risk of injury to a minor and owning an exotic  pet.

"We decided that a monkey is the next best thing," Morales said. "They don't cry, but you still have to change diapers, you still have to bottle feed them."

On Tuesday, the 10-year-old daughter of Morales and a friend were enjoying a snow day, when the daughter decided to open the cage of the marmoset monkey, which is named Aladdin. 

Police said the marmoset monkey, which is small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, scratched Morales' daughter.

"She said 'oh, he just scratched me.' She said 'oh it's red,'" Morales said. "And I said 'OK give me some Bacitracinon it that day.'"

Morales did not seek medical treatment for the child and her daughter went to school the next day, according to investigators.

They said a teacher noticed the injuries and was told by the girl that she had been either scratched or bitten by the animal.

Morales lied to police at first, they said. She would not tell them who owned the pet and where it was located. She eventually admitted she was worried officials would euthanize the monkey.

The risk of injury charge came from Waterbury police.

"It was determined that the monkey is illegal to have as a pet under the state's exotic pet law," said Waterbury police Deputy Chris Corbett.

They said the owning an exotic pet charge came from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

"I was very baffled because I didn't know he was illegal," Morales said.

DEEP also seized the animal. Officials said it's being held at the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport.

"The animal was seized and quarantined to make sure it doesn't have any type of illness or disease," Corbett said.

Morales said she currently lives in South Carolina where monkeys are legal and came up recently to take care of her grandmother. DEEP said to not let the size of this monkey fool you,  it can be dangerous.

State law was changed in 2009 after a chimpanzee caused life-altering injuries to Charla Nash in Stamford.

Morales was released on $500 bond and has a scheduled court date of Feb. 14.

"I think if I would have known beforehand, maybe, I would have not bought him," Morales said.

Copyright 2014 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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