Arboreal monkeys such as capuchin, spider, and vervet monkeys, as well as Java macaques, live in huge family groups of 20 to 60. Capuchin and spider monkeys live in the forest’s highest canopy, which is 100 feet or more above the ground. They all consume fruits, seeds, foliage, insects, reptiles, birds, and small mammals. Vervets wean their pups at six months, whereas the others wean between one and two years. The young, on the other hand, stay with their family for many years.
These are four distinct species, although they are all thought to be extraordinarily intelligent, with sophisticated abilities and activities. They are very gregarious creatures that are extremely protective of their offspring. The women are particularly protective of their children and often adopt orphans from other communities. A devastated mother would often retain her infant’s corpse for many days.
Heaven for these monkeys is resting on a treetop, chewing on a crunchy lizard with their parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Some people believe they would be happier if they were not permitted to climb higher than 10 feet, never saw another monkey, and instead dressed in baby clothes, wore diapers, and ate baby porridge until they died of hunger.
Importing monkeys to keep as pets into the United States became outlawed in 1975. This regulation gave birth to the American primate pet trade, which presently includes raising and selling monkeys in the United States from stock derived from animals brought in before 1975. This is a business focused on isolating social beings, stealing day-old newborns from their mothers, and selling them to naive, uneducated individuals.
Rainbow Primates, one of the major pet monkey brokers in the eastern United States, promotes on its website that its workers spend up to two hours training prospective monkey owners on all they need to know about monkeys. I’ve been working with exotic pets for 11 years and earned my training at the Cincinnati Zoo. I can confidently state that two hours is insufficient time to recognize that you will never know all there is to know about monkeys.
I am Kentucky’s only veterinarian who will treat pet monkeys. I know this because some of my customers travel four hours to bring their monkeys to me. I oppose keeping monkeys as pets, but I do give them with medical treatment since no animal should be refused care. Monkeys are not the same as other exotic pets. It is not enough to provide them with the proper temperature, humidity, and nourishment. Many of the monkey owners I know have said that they regret getting a monkey. Pet monkey opponents claim that they are dangerous to humans’ health. To some degree, this is correct; nevertheless, the American pet monkey population has been isolated since 1975 and offers minimal significant danger for illnesses such as Ebola and Marburg virus. They are most likely at danger since the virus that causes human cold sores may kill a monkey. The exception is macaques. They may transmit the Herpes B virus, which is innocuous to them but fatal to humans. Physical harm is the greatest danger to humanity. Even little monkeys have the strength and teeth of a Rottweiler. Just ask the guy who just had his face and testicles torn and eaten off while celebrating his pet chimp’s birthday.
There are no data on illness transmission from pet monkeys to humans, pet monkey owners will say. They are only right because monkey owners are very hesitant to disclose monkey-related illness or injury. Statistics show that infections have wiped out entire colonies of research monkeys, and that disease transmitted by monkeys has killed research workers. The majority of the monkey owners I know have admitted to being bitten and scratched multiple times. I’ve never had a dog or cat owner ask me to pull all of their pet’s teeth, but monkey owners frequently do. The argument is considerably easier for me. Keeping monkeys as pets is the equivalent of slavery. Monkeys are non-human primates that are just three letters away from becoming human. Monkeys are our closest relatives on Earth, regardless of whether you believe in Creationism, Evolution, or a mix of the two. They are extremely intelligent, but they are prone to stress-related medical, behavioral, and emotional issues. All of the pet monkeys I’ve seen have stress-related issues. Stomach ulcers, chronic diarrhea, nervous tics, and aggression are just a few of the issues I’ve witnessed as a result of confinement.
Monkeys have mastered the jungles over the hundreds of thousands of years that humans have mastered civilization. Humans have a bad habit of being self-centered and short-sighted. Sitting on your couch in a sailor suit, watching Discovery Channel documentaries about monkeys, is no substitute for swinging through the treetops with their extended family.