MIAMI — An elderly woman in Miami woke up to quite a surprise when she found an exotic animal caressing her face.
Late Monday night, the woman was startled when she woke up staring at a kinkajou, which looks like a cross between a raccoon and monkey.
The 99-year-old woman, who has not been named in reports, screamed in panic and the animal scurried away into the attic, according to a Cathy Moghari, a family friend who helped rescue the animal. Moghari came over to the house to try to catch the feisty 2-foot-long creature, which she recognized as a kinkajou because of her experience with exotic animals, according to CNN affilaite WPLG.
“I start thinking, ‘How are we going to get this animal out?’ So I googled kinkajou sounds and found a video,” Moghari told WPLG. After doing an Internet search for kinkajous, Moghari played some kinkajous sounds with the speaker held up to the ceiling, the animal emerged. Moghari then used cherries to help lure the hungry and frightened animal into a cage.
Tuesday morning, the animal arrived at South Dade Avian and Exotic Animal Medical Center where veterinarian Don Harris was able to check over the health of the anxious creature.
“I had to tranquilize her,” said Harris. “Because this animal was scared and could have struck back with a bad bite.”
Kinkajous are nocturnal animals and spend most of their time in trees, according to National Geographic. They are able to turn their feet backwards to run easily in either direction along branches or up and down tree trunks. Although they are typically timid, they can be dangerous, because of their sharp teeth.
Other than being scared and hungry, the 5-year-old kinkajou was given a clean bill of health.
After local news affiliate WPLG and other news stations ran a story about the mysterious kinkajou, her owner, Ray Fernandez, contacted the vet and was reunited with his furry friend, named Banana, Wednesday morning.
Fernandez had boarded Banana with some relatives while having some work done to his house when the animal escaped, he said. Banana had been on the lam for about a week after she escaped from a temporary cage, Fernandez said.
“I left food out and a trap but I never found her. … She was pretty far from where she escaped.”
Banana is now sleeping comfortably at home.
Special permits allow people to keep exotic animals in the United States and Harris said he sees one or two kinkajous a year.