The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both restrict the importation of nonhuman primates as “pets.” The World Organization for Animal Health has issued a statement strongly against the importing of nonhuman primates as “pets.” Both the American Zoological Association and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians have issued comments against private sector ownership of nonhuman primates.
It is believed that at least 10 monkey bites go unreported for every documented bite. Most states in the United States mandate rabies testing for wild animals. This implies that if a monkey attacks or scratches someone, the owner may be forced to surrender the monkey to health inspectors, who will then kill and decapitate the monkey for rabies testing.
Children are particularly susceptible to attacks because monkeys and apes are predisposed to develop dominance hierarchies.
Regardless of how well-intended, very few individuals have the skills and/or means to offer sufficient care to caged monkeys/apes for a lifetime. Baby monkeys/apes sold as pets are denied the chance to be nurtured by their original mothers, and as they age, their natural tendencies are repressed by efforts to turn them into ‘obedient pets.’ When formerly dependent infant monkeys/apes reach puberty, they become aggressive. Monkeys and apes bite and scrape in line with their natural tendencies. The final effect is often relocation (as a result of negligent/abusive treatment, both physically and emotionally) of the monkey/ape. Some monkeys/apes are sentenced to spend the remainder of their life alone in a cage, with little or no human interaction. Others are “exiled” as a result of their “poor” actions. The owner may even euthanize certain monkeys/apes.
Many people who buy exotic creatures, such as monkeys and apes, with the intention of turning them into “pets” fail to consider the following:
Exotic animals need physical and psychological stimulation, as well as roomy and safe habitats, conspecific friendship, and unique dietary and nutritional demands. Depending on the species, the annual expenditures of adequately caring for an exotic animal might range into the thousands of dollars. Many insurance firms refuse to provide home owner’s coverage to anyone who own ‘hazardous’ animals. It may be difficult, if not impossible, to locate a veterinarian who is competent and skilled in handling and treating exotic animals in many areas. New bills/laws prohibiting private sector ownership of wild/exotic animals are being introduced/passed at an unprecedented pace (many of these bills/laws lack “grandfathering” provisions). Unlike domestic dogs and cats, certain animal species (such as nonhuman primates) may live for 30-40 years.
When baby monkeys and apes are just hours or days old, they are actually “ripped” away from their protecting moms. Remember that the breeder’s objective is commercial gain, not compassion.
The forced separation usually causes sadness in the baby monkeys/apes and their original moms. Female “breeders” are often purposefully impregnated at a frequency 4-6 times greater than the species would breed under normal settings, resulting in catastrophic and sometimes fatal/crippling diseases such as hemorrhage and severe bone mass depletion. Bottom line: buying a young primate is always a kind of consumerism that supports an unethical (and sometimes illegal) trade.
Nonhuman primates endanger the safety and health of their owners and anybody who comes into touch with them. Nonhuman primates are infamous for having lethal and infectious diseases including TB, hepatitis, and Simian Herpes B. [Learn more about zoonoses obtained from ‘pet’ primates by clicking here]
Though young monkeys and apes are fully reliant on their caregivers (as are all mammalian species), nonhuman primates are not domesticated, and their instincts remain very much intact in captivity. Adult monkeys and apes are aggressive and bite and scratch instinctively. Individuals who own primates often try to modify the character of the monkey/ape rather than the nature of the care offered. Containment in tiny barren enclosures, chaining, startling, whipping “into submission,” or even excruciating mutilations such as tooth and nail removal are examples of such practices.