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Autistic woman fights to get "service monkeys" back in La.

Joan Newberger
Joan Newberger

(CBS/WWL) NEW ORLEANS - An autistic woman is fighting to get her four monkeys back after they were seized in February in New Orleans by state wildlife officials.

Joan Newberger, 64, learned from a judge Tuesday that she wouldn't be getting her monkeys back yet with the case postponed another month, reports WDSU.

Newberger claims the animals are "service monkeys," according to CBS affiliate WWL-TV. The station reports that the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries categorizes the monkeys as illegally-owned primates, saying that they don't meet the definition of service animals as outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Authorities seized the primates in the French Quarter during Mardi Gras. Both the monkeys and their owner were reportedly dressed in pirate costumes. Although officials say Newberger was using the animals to solicit money, the 64-year-old and her caretaker claim they were just enjoying the festivities.

"We were dressing up for the Mardi Gras and we dress up as pirates," said James Poole, caretaker for Newberger, reports WWL.

According to Wildlife and Fisheries, possession of any non-human primates has been illegal in Louisiana since 2006, says the affiliate.

The animals are reportedly being cared for by the Monroe Zoo. One died in the zoo's care of natural causes,  reports WDSU.