A 99-year-old Florida woman awoke Tuesday evening to find an adorable little creature lying on her chest.
Cuteness aside, the woman was startled when she opened her eyes and saw a kinkajou, an exotic rainforest critter, meeting her gaze.
“The lady is sound asleep and she feels something on her chest and she slowly wakes up, and realizes that there’s an animal curled up sleeping on her chest,” Miami veterinarian Don Harris told WFOR-TV. “I don’t know, I guess her first impression was it might be a cat, but when they both got a look at each other, they both freaked out. The lady screamed, the kinkajou went into her attic.”
The woman, a Miami-Dade resident, called her daughter and her friend, who successfully lured the peculiar animal out of the attic using a YouTube video.
After taking the the strange creature to an animal hospital in south Miami, the women discovered that the animal was a kinkajou, which resembles a monkey but actually belongs to the raccoon family.
“They’re not predators, they’re very peaceful animals, they’re arboreal, they live in the treetops, they live in the branches,” Harris explained. “They eat fruit and bugs and things like that, they’re pretty docile creatures, unless cornered, and then their teeth are their defense mechanisms.”
Kinkajous, also known as honey bears, are nocturnal, and thus a rare sight for humans.
Harris noted however that, if startled, they can be dangerous.
“Someone who was bitten by an animal like this that didn’t get proper medical care could lose a limb,” he said.
But apparently in this case, the honey bear just wanted a cuddle buddy.
“Some people keep them as pets, but I don’t know really how often they make really good pets,” Harris told WFOR-TV. “It’s not the kind of animal that you can safely cuddle up with. They’re very interesting, they’re very rare. Special permits are required to have them, so the question is where did this animal come from?”
According to WFOR-TV, this particular kinkajou was someone’s pet in South Florida. The owner picked it up from the animal hospital Wednesday.