A 99-year-old woman got the shock of her life when she woke up at 2 a.m. Tuesday to find a strange animal caressing her face. Veterinarians said the Miami, Florida, woman had been awakened by a weight on her chest.
Dr. Don Harris of the South Dade Avian & Exotic Animal Medical Center, 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 animal, a South American kinkajou, fled into the attic.
The woman called her son-in-law, Carlos Aguaras, and a family friend, Cathy Moghari.
Moghari identified the creature, and with a Google search found a video of kinkajous vocalizing. She held it up to the ceiling to bring the frightened animal closer. A treat of cherries lured it out even further, so that Aguaras could catch it, cage it, and take it to Dr. Harris.
Harris knew right away it was someone’s pet.
“No undomesticated wild animal like this would curl up on a woman’s chest to go to sleep,” he explained.
He administered a tranquillizer to calm the kinkajou.
Although they resemble primates, kinkajous are actually members of the raccoon family.
They are nocturnal beasts that normally live in tropical forests, where they use their backwards-turning feet and powerful prehensile tails to scramble about the canopy. Although timid by nature, they can give a sharp bite when threatened. Their natural foods include insects, small mammals, fruit and honey.
This kinkajou was in good health, other than being hungry and frightened.
After local news outlets ran stories about the mysterious night visitor, Ray Fernandez contacted the vet, identifying her has his pet, Banana.
Fernandez has had Banana for five years, but he’d left her with relatives for a few days while work was being done on his home. Using her nimble little kinkajou hands, Banana had escaped from the temporary cage, and hadn’t been seen for days.
They put out food and a trap but didn’t find her. She’d travelled pretty far from where she escaped.
“I got my baby back,” Fernandez said, “I can’t believe it. I thought she was lost forever.”
Banana is now sleeping comfortably at home.