Pet Monkeys and some Concerns for Owning Capuchins
Possibly the two most famous pet monkeys are Curious George and Cheeta. Both are fictional, but lots of people who grew up reading books about them grew up to want a pet monkey. Sadly monkeys are often a misunderstood pet and the relationship starts in cruelty and ends in disaster.
The Cruel Start of Keeping Monkeys as Pets
Monkeys are primates, they cannot talk like you or I, but make no mistake, they are intelligent and sensitive.
Kittens and puppies are often removed from their parents between six and eight weeks of age. Some areas have laws stating these pets cannot be sold before these ages. In monkeys the situation is more tragic.
In nature a young monkey would stay with its mother for years. In fact the mother would usually not have a second offspring until the other has reached two years of age. Think about it.. if people demand kittens and pups at a young age, why would they not demand the same (or more) when getting a monkey?
In the exotic pet industry baby Capuchin monkeys are torn from their mothers usually at two weeks of age, sometimes even at one day old. This is done reportedly so the baby can bond with its new owner. It also results in the ability of the breeder to rebreed the mother so she produces more baby monkeys at an unnatural rate.
Sold for high prices, and placed in new homes, we can only wonder what the survival rate is for these young, terrified, animals.
Some of todays pet monkeys are not so much pets as they are helpers. The monkey used is nearly always a Capuchin, they are taken as infants and raised with people and later trained to help handicapped people, usually quadriplegics. They can open bottles and microwave food as well as preforming some other tasks. Spider Monkeys are also popular.
Capuchin monkeys are one of the smarter species of monkey, they are quick learners, with fewer tendencies towards dangerous violence. As such they were found to be better pets than some of the larger monkey species. This is not to say they cannot be violent, only that their smaller size makes them less dangerous.
In nature they may only live 15 years, this lifespan can be prolonged by keeping them as pets to over 30 years. In the wild they live in groups of more than a dozen members, and they have territorial boundaries, this too is changed drastically when we keep them as pets.
Problems with keeping Pet Monkeys
Pet Monkeys are illegal in some countries and states, but smuggled in even still. When caught they may be removed and placed in a zoo or rescue. Consider that monkeys have an intelligence level close to humans and this is just like tearing a human family apart.
Monkeys become more dependant on their owners than dogs do. They cannot be left in a kennel while the owners go on holiday.
We already mentioned that it is cruel to take such a smart animal away from its mother at such a young age, but this must be said again. Sometimes the new owners make mistakes with their fragile new infant as it must be cared for around the clock, bottle fed, and so forth.
Many people object to humans keeping monkeys as if they were children, dressing them in cloths and forcing them to behave as if they were a toddler. They even go so far as to keep the monkey in a stroller, never to grow up. In a way, although it is debatable as cruelty it may be a mental illness in the owner as they desire a baby that never grows up.
Monkeys, and especially males, often become restless and may be aggressive. They may throw things (often feces) as a way to cope with the boredom and frustration of living an unnatural life.