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Man killed monkey while trying to steal it from zoo

BOISE, Idaho — A 22-year-old man clubbed a monkey to death with a tree branch, after he was bitten by the animal while trying to steal it from a Boise zoo, prosecutors charge.

Michael J. Watkins entered Zoo Boise on Saturday morning, manipulated a lock to get into the primate enclosure, and removed the patas monkey by wrapping it in his jacket, Ada County deputy prosecutor Fafa Alidjani said after Watkins was arraigned.

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‘‘He told police he was going to throw the monkey outside the fence,’’ Alidjani said Wednesday. When he failed, the monkey bit him, prompting Watkins to use a tree branch to bash the monkey in the head and neck, she said.

A security guard spotted the intruder, who ran, and the animal died a short time after being found by zoo officials.

Watkins was scheduled to enter a plea on felony burglary and grand theft charges at a Dec. 5 preliminary hearing.

If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison on the burglary charge and 14 years for the grand theft charge. Idaho law allows prosecutors to bring grand theft charges against those accused of killing livestock or animals valued at more than $150 dollars.

Judge Henry Boomer denied Watkins’s bid to reduce bail from $150,000 to $10,000.

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