updated 12/27/2007 11:27:40 AM ET 2007-12-27T16:27:40

A small monkey stashed in a man's hat during a flight to New York has died, and a U.S. federal health agency spokeswoman says authorities do not know why, according to a local newspaper.

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The fist-sized tamarin was seized on Aug. 7 as its owner got off a plane at LaGuardia Airport in New York City, the Daily News reported Thursday. The tiny primate apparently escaped detection during a flight from Lima, Peru, and a stopover in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

But the forest-dwelling creature was spotted after it crept out and perched on its owner's ponytail during the trip to New York, the paper reported.

Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokeswoman Shelly Diaz was quoted by the paper as saying the tamarin showed no signs of illness during a quarantine period. She said the agency was trying to find the animal a permanent home when it died.

The owner was questioned and released. He told authorities he did not realize the monkey's voyage was illegal.

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