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Toy Pet Monkeys: Helpful or Harmful?

Becca Banks October 27, 2017

According to Toys-R-Us’ Hot Toy List, monkey fingerlings are going to be one of the most coveted gifts for kids this holiday season. Monkey fingerlings are robotic, interactive toys that are small enough to slide around a child’s finger. The mechanized monkeys can burp, laugh, blink, fart, make noises and even sense when they’re being touched, talked to or hung upside down. The creators of the toy, WowWee, made sure to include all of the endearing and delightful qualities of monkeys when making the fingerlings, but they left out a few key, less desirable traits of monkeys.

WowWee's Monkey Fingerling, Bella

If the creators of the fingerlings tried to actually portray what it would be like for someone to own a monkey as a pet, they’d have to really amp up their design. First, they’d need the toy to have very sharp canines and nails made out of a material strong enough to break through plastic, rubber, fabric, glass and basically any other material found in a typical household. Second, they’d need to infect the toy pet monkey with a live virus that could be transmissible, since monkeys carry debilitating—even lethal—diseases. Finally, WowWee would have to find a way for the toys to engage in unexpectedly wild and unpredictable behaviors around age 5 or 6—the age that real monkeys hit puberty. It’s no wonder that WowWee couldn’t make the fingerlings more realistic…what parent would want to purchase for their child a toy that is dangerous, aggressive or threatening? That certainly wouldn’t make for a desirable playmate.

Luckily, the fingerling toys that WowWee came up with pose no real threat to children or someone’s home. However, we wonder if they may be posing a threat to the unfortunate monkeys that end up in the exotic pet trade. While fingerlings are a great alternative to actually owning a pet monkey, could owning one potentially entice a family or child to want a real monkey as a pet? While this notion may seem far-fetched, it’s not unheard of. How many children first learned the responsibilities of caring for an animal when their parents bought them a FurReal Friends dog? After seeing their child completely smitten by the fake dog, how many parents take the next step of adopting a dog for the family? If fingerling toys are making monkeys out to be these docile, snuggly pets, could WowWee be unintentionally fueling the exotic pet trade for monkeys?

While we would be thrilled to see the fingerling toys replace any want for pet monkeys, we fear that they may have a harmful impact instead. If you see the popular toys being played with by children around you this holiday season, remind them that toy monkeys are much more fun to play with than real ones.

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