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COLOGNE, Germany – German fans of Justin Bieber got a scare recently when a viral video promoting a new reality TV show claimed Belieber terrorists had kidnapped Mally, the pop star’s pet monkey.
It turns out though that the video, which featured two people in Bieber masks holding a tiny capuchin monkey, was a PR stunt to promote a fake “reality” series on the German version of Comedy Central.
The show, set to air in Germany this summer, purports to be a behind-the-scenes look at the day-to-day life of the wee primate, which German customs officials famously seized after the pop star brought it on tour without the proper paperwork.
The real Mally is actually safe and sound and has been set up in his new home on a prime piece of real estate dubbed “Mally-Bu” in Serengeti Park, a safari-style zoo located outside of Hanover in northern Germany. Mally was transferred to a tree-covered island in the park last week after being released from quarantine.
“After the Comedy Central video went out, we got some nasty emails from [Bieber] fans saying things like ‘You said you would take care of him!’” zoo spokeswoman Juliane Gunkel told THR. “But things have calmed down now, and Mally is adjusting to his new surroundings.”
The 27-week-old primate is currently the only resident of Mally-Bu, but as he acclimates the zoo plans to slowly introduce him to his new family: the six other capuchin monkeys living in the park.
Gunkel said Mally is still scared of the outdoors and clings tightly to his caretaker, 29-year-old Jenny Niewohner, on brief excursions outside. Gunkel speculates this could be due to the fact that Mally was mostly kept indoors until now. The monkey also continues to cling to a stuffed toy thought to have been given to him by Bieber.
A mother capuchin monkey will often adopt an abandoned baby monkey into its family, provided the group’s alpha male is not threatened by the newcomer, Gunkel said. She added that Mally was the ideal age — “young and not yet sexually active” — and that the zoo was confident he would fit in.
Bieber had until May 7 to present the right paperwork to reclaim his pet from German officials, but he failed to do so. Mally is now the property of the German state. The zoo contacted the pop star’s management about Mally’s new home, but Gunkel said the zoo has not received any response. Bieber’s representatives declined comment when German authorities first seized the monkey earlier this year.
Food, care and upkeep for the animal costs the zoo around $100 a day, Gunkel said. There is no word yet on whether Bieber plans to chip in.
Some fans of the 19-year-old pop star have made the trek to see their idol’s former pet. “We’ve heard a few girls say ‘That’s Justin’s monkey!’” Gunkel confirmed. So far, though, she said, the zoo hasn’t seen a Beliebers onslaught.
“Our main audience is families with young children,” Gunkel said. “We don’t get so many teenage girls.”
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