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Gabriella Katia, Diddy Kong, and Yeti Kong Light Up the Internet
Photo by Michael Campina

Gabriella Katia, Diddy Kong, and Yeti Kong Light Up the Internet

Gabriella Katia is a longtime model who's made repeat appearances at Miami Swim Week. But that's not why people are always stopping her on the street. It's because of her pet monkeys.

With boyfriend Matt Crown, Katia has two marmosets, Diddy Kong and Yeti Kong. The tiny primates have become pintsize celebrities, with a million Instagram followers and fans including Snoop Dogg, Cara Delevingne, and Neil Patrick Harris. Diddy Kong even starred in a Wiz Khalifa music video.

"All the attention is nice, and Diddy Kong definitely likes it," Katia, age 26, says with a laugh. "It's maybe getting to his head a little bit, but he likes it."

Born in San Diego and raised in Orlando, Katia moved to Miami about seven years ago to pursue modeling. She signed a contract with a lingerie company and then with a Miami-based agency. Won over by its beaches, quick pace, and wealth of cultures, she soon fell in love with the Magic City.

"In my opinion, Miami is the best city in the world," she says.

It was 2015 when Katia and Crown, who live in Edgewater, rescued a pneumonia-struck Diddy Kong from a Fort Lauderdale animal sanctuary in 2015 and nursed him back to health. They started his Instagram page to share photos and videos with their friends. But the page's following grew far larger than they ever expected when they struck viral gold with a video of the five-inch-tall monkey enjoying a toothbrush bath.

"That one video put him on the map," Katia says.

Soon after, the couple decided their monkey needed a friend. Along came Yeti Kong, another marmoset that, at two-and-a-half inches, is even tinier than her brother. The two settled into a pampered life of fresh fruit meals, cuddles with mom and dad, rooftop sunbathing, and the occasional mini marshmallow. They often hit the town on their mom's shoulder.

Diddy and Yeti Kong have become such big stars that they now have a New York-based agent who handles promotions and events. In recent weeks, they've been busy making media appearances and preparing for their debut at PetCon, a gathering of celebrity pets and their fans, at the Javits Center in the Big Apple.

Florida is one of just a handful of states that allow ownership of monkeys. The Sunshine State requires permits, though, and some — such as those for great apes, gibbons, and baboons — are particularly difficult to get. Obtaining permits for the tiny marmosets is relatively easy.

Navigating all of this has been a bit of a whirlwind for Diddy and Yeti Kong's parents.

"If you would have told me two years ago that I was going to be the mom of two famous monkeys on Instagram," Katia says, "I literally would not believe you. I'd be very confused."

Next: Esther Park-Clemetson | Gami

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