Are Pet Monkeys Legal in the United States?


The importation of nonhuman primates as ‘pets’ is prohibited by the

  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control

Position statements have been issued by the World Organization for Animal Health, the American Zoological Association, the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists condemning private sector holding of nonhuman primates. 

These rules, however, do not restrict the domestic sale of nonhuman primates as “pets.”

The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians recommends federal and state legislation prohibiting:

  • private ownership of NHP;
  • future commerce in NHP for the pet trade;
  • privately owned “grandfathered” NHP:
    • from all public areas or 
    • in any type of exhibition (except in transport to a veterinary facility, or during legal transport)
    • from breeding

Summary Of U.S. State Laws Regarding Private Sector Possession Of Nonhuman Primates

  • 17 states have no restrictions 
  • 18 states ban private sector possession
  • 7 states require a permit 
  • 5 states have partial bans [banning certain species] 
  • 2 states have partial bans [certain species]; permits required for other species 
  • 1 state requires being bonded

Aside from state regulations, several towns, cities, and/or counties in the United States prohibit the private ownership of nonhuman primates. New rules and regulations restricting the keeping of monkeys and apes as “pets” are being enacted at an unprecedented pace.

States With No Restrictions On Private Sector Possession Of Nonhuman Primates:

Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin

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