Passenger smuggles monkey onto plane under hat

A man smuggled a monkey onto an aeroplane, stashing the fist-size primate under his hat until passengers spotted it perched on his ponytail, an airline official in New York said.

On a flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to New York's LaGuardia airport, people around the man noticed that a marmoset - which normally lives in forests and eats fruit and insects - had emerged from underneath his hat, Spirit Airlines spokeswoman Alison Russell said. The man's journey had begun in Lima, Peru.

"Other passengers asked the man if he knew he had a monkey on him," Russell said.

The monkey spent the remainder of the flight in the man's seat and behaved well, said Russell. She did not know how the monkey skirted detection in Lima and during the man's several-hour layover in Fort Lauderdale.

LaGuardia airport police were waiting for the man and his monkey when the plane landed, and he was taken for questioning. It was unclear if he would face any criminal charges.

The city's animal control agency said the monkey appeared healthy. But the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention was planning to take it for disease testing and keep it quarantined for 31 days, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said.

If the monkey is healthy it could wind up in a zoo.

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