Animal rights group PETA has called on authorities to investigate whether Dallas Cowboys star receiver Dez Bryant is in illegal possession of a baby monkey, asking for the animal to be transferred to a sanctuary.
Bryant posted a photo on his Instagram account last week of the monkey, along with the message "My new best friend.... Dallas Bryant world."
PETA identified the monkey as a capuchin in a letter to animal control authorities in DeSoto, Texas, where Bryant owns a home.
Brittany Peet, PETA's deputy director of captive animal law enforcement, said Monday in a statement that the "baby capuchin was torn away from his mother shortly after birth and needs special care that can now only be provided by wildlife experts."
"Monkeys belong in the wild -- not in the hands of football players who acquire exotic animals just to make a splash on Instagram," Peet said in the statement.
PETA's letter to DeSoto animal control cited a municipal code that says that Bryant is not legally eligible to own the monkey unless he has a special-use permit, which usually is granted only to public zoos, schools, retail pet distributors, rodeos or circuses.
"If Bryant or any other individual is found in illegal possession of this infant capuchin, please seize this animal," PETA requested in the letter.
PETA also offered to help DeSoto Animal Control identify an accredited sanctuary for the monkey.
"Captive monkeys should be cared for by wildlife experts who understand their physical and psychological needs and in facilities where they can live in natural social groups -- they should not be in the hands of an NFL football player," the letter said. "This infant animal must be urgently relocated to a reputable animal sanctuary, where he or she can be provided with appropriate care."
Asked Monday if the monkey has made a visit to Valley Ranch, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said, "I have not met Dallas. Uh, I've heard stories that he has a monkey. There has been visual evidence of that."
Bryant is coming off an eventful week during which he returned to the Cowboys after being sidelined since Week 1 with a foot injury.
The two-time Pro Bowler had two receptions in Sunday's 13-12 loss to the Seahawks and went on a profanity-laced postgame tirade while denying that he made derogatory remarks to an injured Seattle player.
Information from ESPN Cowboys reporter Todd Archer was included in this report.