Lemurs As Pets

The Primate Center believes that no primate should be held by a person. There are several causes for this, but here are a few:

  1. We are unaware of any vets in our region (Raleigh-Durham) or many outside of our area who are competent with primate care.
    Unfortunately, our vet is too busy with our primates (all of whom are Prosimians, not monkeys, with somewhat different morphology than monkeys) to accept outside primates. In this scenario, the best thing to do is to call the NCSU Vet School or a veterinarian in your region and ask for their advice.
  2. Although we get phone calls from people who own primates, we do not keep track of them. Frequently, phone inquiries are concerning health or personality difficulties, and we are unable to assist.
  3. I’m also not aware of any books or websites that are supportive of this position. Here are two excellent websites that advise against keeping them as pets:
    Both www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/09/0916 03016 primatepets.html and www.petmonkey.info/articles.htm pertain to monkeys, but the concerns are the same. There are also a few “primate rescues” in Florida that you may look up on the Internet. Florida seems to have a lot of people who own primates, and the reason there are rescue facilities is because most people are unable to manage these creatures in their homes and must surrender them to a rescue center.
  4. Primates, it is true, cannot be domesticated. Our prosimians are kept wild here. One explanation is that they will have natural habits, and another is that if they grow too acclimated to people, they will become biters and very violent. One of the most popular inquiries we get from owners is how to remove the animal’s teeth when it begins attacking the owner and their family.
  5. As you can see, we have a negative attitude on primate ownership. When providing public tours, we often remind people that primates do not make ideal pets because “when you want a pet, you want something clever enough to do what you want it to do, but stupid enough to do it every time.”
    Primates cannot be taught; they can only be conditioned, and that only by food or coercion, neither of which is healthy.

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