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ODA forces TikToker to give up beloved monkey

CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio — Rico Exotic has normally liked animals.

“Growing up in poverty, you finish up starting to be a solution of that poverty,” he stated. “To retain me from combating my mental concerns like despair, stress paranoia that arrives from staying in that setting, animals was my way to cope.”

The 22-year-old’s serious name is not Rico Exotic but he didn’t want Information 5 to use his whole name. He grew up in Cleveland and claimed the nickname ‘Rico Exotic’ caught on as individuals acknowledged his like for any and just about every animal.

“I rescued just one of the raccoons [from a neighbor] and that is when they begun calling me Rico Exotic.”

Ultimately, the amount of animals he owned grew.

“I had a raccoon, degus, coatimundi, lemur, and my monkey Mike,” he explained.

When Rico posted his grivet monkey, Mike, on TikTok a calendar year in the past, his subsequent grew, also.

He now has 1.5 million followers and a lot more than 35.5 million likes on TikTok and 117,000 followers on Instagram. He reveals viewers how he cares and bonds with the animals in the video clips.

“I give them a harmless spot. I give Mike a protected place,” he said. “A whole lot of folks assist what I do and respect what I do.”

But earlier this thirty day period, the Ohio Section of Agriculture been given a tip about his monkey Mike. They raided his Northeast Ohio residence on Nov. 17.

“I turned the corner to my kitchen and there are 5 firearms in my deal with and law enforcement shields. I was so perplexed due to the fact I did not know what I probably did to cause this,” he reported. “They cuff me then I’m inquiring like ‘What did I do?’ and they are like ‘Where’s the monkey?”

The Ohio Section of Agriculture classifies Mike, a grivet monkey, as a hazardous wild animal. A spokesperson for the agency reported that Rico did not have a risky wild animal allow for him.

Rico was not knowledgeable that grivet monkeys were being categorized as perilous below Ohio legislation. He claimed he believed he was carrying out everything proper.

“It’s not crystal clear. It don’t say grivet monkeys on there,” he stated. “I did not want to violate the regulation and then article it on social media so I can get qualified.”

ODA’s Division of Animal Well being set Mike under quarantine even though hunting for an sufficient sanctuary for him. Rico reported he wasn’t given apparent instructions for the timeline of quarantine and what to do with Mike.

“They informed me I experienced to get him out of the point out or they have been heading to come again and acquire him,” reported Rico.

He stated he didn’t want the point out to take Mike, so he took him to an animal rescue in Tennessee.

Rico explained it was a challenging goodbye.

“This circumstance is really crucial on both of us. When I’m down or I’m sensation unhappy, Mike is aware of. He wouldn’t let me go the complete evening, he held onto me.”

But due to the fact Rico violated quarantine orders, he’s now in more problems with the condition.

“Which is variety of complicated simply because I had to get him out of the condition. How could I do so?” he asked.

He’s hired a lawyer to fight any rates that may well be submitted in opposition to him but just needs to be reunited with Mike.

“It could look that it is a pet to any individual else like ‘oh it’s just a monkey, get rid of him,’ which is not the situation. I appear at him as my son. I took him in. He was deserted.”

He commenced a GoFundMe web page to increase revenue to get his animals out of the point out and open up an animal sanctuary.

“So I can relocate and I can get me a new property and have safe spot for me and my animals legally.”

The ODA stated the make a difference is an open up investigation. For a listing of animals deemed risky in Ohio, click on right here.