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BROOKLYN, N.Y. - A monkey went ape Monday and bit a toddler in a Key Foods store here, leading to a jungle of coverage by New York City's tabloids and television stations. Darla, a five-year-old macaque monkey who works as a service animal, was in the store shopping with her master, Steve Seidler, when she bit two-year-old Tommy Romano, who was shopping with his grandmother, on the arm.
Helene Romano, the boy's grandmother, said the animal attacked without warning. "I said, 'Sir, your dog is biting my grandson!'" Romano said, and then was shocked to see the tail and find it was a monkey. "It's a monkey! What's a monkey doing in a Key Food?"
But Seidler says Darla bit only after the boy had been repeatedly pulling at the animal.
The incident garnered coverage on each of the city's six evening newscasts, with cameras descending on Key Foods and reporters uncovering another child-biting incident involving Darla, on a sidewalk last summer. They also aired claims by neighbors that Seidler isn't really handicapped and even shovels his own sidewalk in the winter.
Monkeys are illegal as pets in New York City, but are allowed as service animals to help the disabled.
Progressive Grocer tried to contact Key Food to determine if the store could in any way be found liable for allowing the monkey on its premises, but a customer service representative said the store manager was not in today and declined further comment.