Armed Officials Raid Famous TikToker's House Over 'Dangerous' Monkey

A popular TikToker known as Rico Exotic has had his house raided by the Ohio Department of Agriculture because he owns a monkey classed as a dangerous wild animal.

The grivet monkey regularly appears in the videos Rico Exotic shares with his 1.7 million followers on TikTok. He does not have a permit to own the animal, but has said he was not informed that he needed one in Ohio.

His recently purchased home in the state was raided by armed officials on November 17, after the authorities received a tip.

"I turned the corner to my kitchen and there are five firearms in my face and police shields. I was so confused because I didn't know what I possibly did to cause this," he told News 5 in Cleveland."They cuff me, then I'm asking, like, 'What did I do?' and they're like, 'Where's the monkey?"

Rico Exotic's social media posts show his bond with the monkey, named Mike, whom he refers to as his son. He began uploading images of his exotic animals about a year ago and now has more than 35 million likes on the app.

"I give them a safe place. I give Mike a safe place. A lot of people support what I do and respect what I do," he said.

"Growing up in poverty, you end up becoming a product of that poverty. To keep me from fighting my mental issues like depression, anxiety paranoia that comes from being in that environment, animals was my way to cope."


Reply to @chrisbell140 I posted it twice but everyone keep asking where it’s at here it goes cash app $ricoexotic gofund me in bio

♬ original sound - Ricoexotic

The TikToker also keeps a ring-tailed lemur, a coatimundi and a raccoon at his Ohio home.

In a TikTok video, Rico Exotic claims that before moving to Ohio, he contacted the agriculture department and asked if he could own the monkey. He says he was told he could as long as he didn't take it outside the house. He also claims that all his animals are registered with the United States Department of Agriculture.

In a statement to Newsweek, the Ohio department said: "The Ohio Department of Agriculture received a tip about a grivet monkey at a home in Warren, Ohio. Grivet monkeys are defined as dangerous wild animals under ORC 935.01. ODA enforcement officers conducted a search warrant at the home of [Rico Exotic] on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 and discovered the grivet monkey."

It added that he "does not possess a Dangerous Wild Animal permit through the Ohio Department of Agriculture for this monkey."

The monkey was "placed under quarantine by ODA's Division of Animal Health while we search for an adequate sanctuary for it," the department said.

However, it said it had "received information that the monkey may have been taken out of state. The situation is currently under investigation."

Rico Exotic told News 5 that he took Mike to a shelter in Tennessee himself, alleging he had been warned by the agriculture department to move the monkey or "they were going to come back and take him."

Rico Exotic shared surveillance footage from the raid to his TikTok account. He has also started a GoFundMe page to take all his animals out of state and open an animal sanctuary. The page says the money is needed "so I can relocate and I can get a new home and have a safe place for me and my animals legally."

The Ohio Department of Agriculture has stated that the investigation into his animals is continuing.

Newsweek has contacted Rico Exotic for comment.

Grivet monkey
Stock image of a grivet monkey. Getty Images