Man pleads guilty in death of monkey at US zoo

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A man charged with beating a monkey to death in an Idaho's zoo last year has pleaded guilty.

Michael Watkins pleaded guilty on Thursday to a felony charge of attempted grand theft and one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty.

The Idaho Statesman reports the 22-year-old will be sentenced on May 16.

In exchange for his guilty pleas, prosecutors agreed to drop felony charges of grand theft and burglary.

Watkins had initially pleaded not guilty.

He had told police the Patas monkey attacked him as he was trying to set it free from Zoo Boise in the early morning hours of Nov 17.

He said he beat the monkey in the head with a tree branch in self-defence.

Authorities alleged Watkins tried to steal the monkey after a night of heavy drinking.