Crime

After Good Samaritan finds her, Zoe the dress-wearing monkey is home safe

Missing dress-wearing monkey reunited with her Homestead owner

Vanessa Di Gennaro's pet marmoset monkey, Zoe, was stolen from her Homestead yard Friday night. On Tuesday, she was reunited with her "baby."
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Vanessa Di Gennaro's pet marmoset monkey, Zoe, was stolen from her Homestead yard Friday night. On Tuesday, she was reunited with her "baby."

Zoe the dress-wearing, banana-loving monkey is home once again, after she was stolen from her owner’s Homestead backyard and allegedly sold for $900.

READ MORE: Banana-loving, dress-wearing pet monkey goes missing. A man is now behind bars.

“I’m just ecstatic,” said her owner, Vanessa Di Gennaro, Tuesday morning from her home.

The White Tufted Marmoset disappeared Friday night while Di Gennaro was cleaning her trailer at the Aquarius Mobile Home & RV Park, 451 SE Eighth St. in Homestead. Di Gennaro said she wandered the streets until dawn screaming Zoe’s name and whistling for her “baby.”

She offered a $1,000 reward for the safe return of the nearly 2-pound monkey. A neighbor told her someone down the street had her pet, and Homestead police arrested 21-year-old Oscar Leiva on charges of grand theft. He told police Zoe ran into his trailer, he put her in a cage and then she escaped.

But the neighbor told police that Leiva didn’t lose the monkey — he sold her for $900.

Di Gennaro was desperate to get her baby back, so she turned to media. She upped her reward to $2,000 and posted her cellphone number online.

The calls poured in — including a monkey found in Key West.

Finally, a “good Samaritan” came with the news she was waiting for. She found Zoe. Someone was trying to sell her the monkey, but she recognized Zoe from the news and contacted Di Gennaro on Facebook.

“I saw the picture and I was like, ‘That’s my monkey. That’s my kid,’ ” Di Gennaro said.

Police rescued the monkey soon after and returned her. She’s in good shape, if a little skinnier, she said. And the woman who found her is a monkey mom herself, so she doesn’t want to accept the reward.

“In the last couple days I’ve experienced the worst and the best of humanity,” she said, “and there are a lot more good people than bad out there.”

Alex Harris: 305-376-5005, @harrisalexc

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