RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — When two police officers tore little Chico from the arms of Elizete Carmona, they said it was for his own good. After all, 71-year-old women aren’t meant to live with endangered tufted capuchin monkeys.


But the case has upset many in Brazil, where thousands of people have signed an online petition calling on Sao Paulo state environmental officials to return Chico to the only home he’s known for the past 37 years.


It’s illegal to keep wild animals as pets in Brazil, especially those classified as endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of threatened species, as the tufted capuchin monkey has been.


But the Carmona family contends Chico is completely domesticated and might not survive the stress of separation.


“I don’t know if I will be able to bear it,” she told Globo. “For me, I’ve lost a son. They’ve taken my son away.”


The Carmona family still holds out hope of getting Chico back. More than 4,000 people have signed a petition on the website “Peticao Publica” calling on the environmental police to return Chico according to G1.


Brazil: Thousands urge return of pet monkey Chico