Kenzy ended up being the missing link for Tamela Collins’ autistic teenage son.
“He doesn’t communicate with anyone else, he doesn't talk or look at anybody’s eyes. When I got Kenzy, Damon opened up,” said Tamela Collins of her 15-year-old.
But just weeks after spending thousands of dollars, and bringing the primate home from Texas, Fish and Wildlife officers came calling and she was put in handcuffs. “So I had to ride in a police car to the jail until they got it all figured out,” said Collins.
Collins sent Kenzy to an out-of-state sanctuary for primates once she learned the animal was illegal.
“I have photos on my refrigerator. My son will walk by and ask, ‘Mom when is Kenzy coming back?' I say, he’s not, buddy,’” said Collins.
If she is found guilty of the tampering with physical evidence offense, Collins could serve up to 5 years in prison.
The incident also got her evicted from her home, yet she says she can’t find anything in her lease prohibiting such animals. “Losing my home, facing jail time, because I thought I was doing something good for my child,” said Collins.
Fish and Wildlife officials say they stand by the laws that they say are designed to protect people and other animals from disease that could be carried by primates, or injuries that could occur once the animals mature.