The Ohio Department of Agriculture raided the home of Rico Exotic, a popular TikToker, because he owns a monkey classified as a dangerous wild animal.
The grivet monkey appears frequently in Rico Exotic’s TikTok videos, which he shares with his 1.7 million followers. He does not have a permit to own the animal, but he claims he was not made aware of the requirement in Ohio.
On November 17, armed officials raided his recently purchased home in the state after receiving a tip.
“I turned the corner to my kitchen and there are five firearms and police shields in front of me. I was perplexed because I had no idea what I could have done to cause this “He told Cleveland’s News 5 about it. “They handcuff me, and I ask, ‘What did I do?’ and they say, ‘Where’s the monkey?” Rico Exotic’s social media posts demonstrate his attachment to the monkey, Mike, whom he refers to as his son. He began uploading images of his exotic animals on the app about a year ago and now has over 35 million likes.
“I provide them with a safe haven. I provide Mike with a safe haven. Many people believe in what I do and admire what I do “He stated.
“Growing up in poverty makes you a product of that poverty. Animals were my way of coping with my mental issues such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia caused by being in that environment.”
At his Ohio home, the TikToker also has a ring-tailed lemur, a coatimundi, and a raccoon.
Rico Exotic claims in a TikTok video that before moving to Ohio, he contacted the agriculture department and asked if he could keep the monkey. He claims he was told he could if he didn’t take it outside the house. He also claims that all of his animals have been registered with the US Department of Agriculture.
The Ohio Department of Transportation stated in a statement: “A grivet monkey was discovered at a home in Warren, Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Grivet monkeys are classified as dangerous wild animals under Oregon Revised Statutes (ORC) 935.01. On Wednesday, November 17, 2021, ODA enforcement officers executed a search warrant at the home of [Rico Exotic] and discovered the grivet monkey.”
It was also stated that he “This monkey does not have a Dangerous Wild Animal permit from the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
The monkey was “placed under quarantine by ODA’s Division of Animal Health while we search for an appropriate sanctuary for it,” according to the ODA “According to the department. However, it stated that it had “received word that the monkey had been taken out of state The incident is currently being investigated.”
Rico Exotic told the news that he took Mike to a shelter in Tennessee himself, claiming that the agriculture department had warned him that if he didn’t move the monkey, “they were going to come back and take him.”
Rico Exotic used his TikTok account to post surveillance footage from the raid. He has also started a GoFundMe page to raise funds to relocate all of his animals out of state and establish an animal sanctuary. According to the page, the funds are required “so that I can legally relocate and get a new home for myself and my animals.”
The investigation into his animals is still ongoing, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.