2 convicted of cruelty to monkeys on Bourbon St

July 8, 2011 at 2:08 a.m.
Updated July 9, 2011 at 2:09 a.m.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A Texas woman and a Florida man have been convicted of cruelty to monkeys they dressed as pirates and brought onto Bourbon Street in New Orleans nine days before Mardi Gras, the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said Friday.

A jury also convicted James Wells Poole, 62, of St. Augustine, Fla., and 64-year-old Joan Susanne Newberger of Rio Hondo, Texas, on Thursday of lacking permits for the monkeys.

"The monkeys were ... in poor overall health with a diaper rash, dehydration and piercings," department spokesman Adam Einck said in an email Friday.

Einck said state wildlife agents confiscated the monkeys Feb. 26 after watching them touch people as part of a street act.

Newberger, who the department said also is known as Joan Poole, told New Orleans television stations at the time that she is autistic and the patas monkey and three marmosets are service animals that help her bathe and do other daily tasks.

They also said they were just masking for Mardi Gras, and dressed the monkeys to match.

Wildlife agents said in February that they were charging $2 for people who wanted their pictures taken with the monkeys. Newberger told WWL-TV that people were pestering her for pictures, and she started charging to discourage them.

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 Gardens and Zoo in Monroe, where they have been living.

One died at the zoo, WWL-TV reported. A woman who answered the zoo's phone Friday said the only person who could talk about the monkeys would not be available until Monday.



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