Primate Rescue Center

Monkey See, Monkey Gone: State Seizes Webster Couple’s Little Primate

Erika Fleury March 22, 2015

If you know Sandy and Donald Short, then you know Che Che, the bright-faced, 1-pound marmoset monkey, or "finger monkey," the couple has owned for about a year.

photo courtesy Telegram & Gazette

Che Che was everything Mrs. Short has always wanted. She researched the monkey and its care before going down to Davie, Florida, last May to purchase Che Che from Poggi's Animal House for $3,500. Che Che was 6 weeks old when she returned to Webster to live with the Shorts and quickly found her place in the Short household — which included Mrs. Short's father, Sylvester Siekierski, and two dogs, a Maltese named Prancer and a Great Dane named Jasmine.

"She's the size of a baseball, with a long tail," Mr. Short said.

But she's also an illegal pet to have in Massachusetts. In general, primates of any kind are not allowed to be kept as pets in Massachusetts.

The state usually seizes about one primate a year, and in the past 10 years, marmosets of various types seem to be what the state Department of Fish and Game see the most. Ten years ago, capuchin monkeys were more common, explained Thomas French, assistant director for the Department of Fish and Game's Natural Heritage Program.

Mr. French could not comment on the Shorts' case.

Primates can be legally kept in zoos, in a research facility, with professional educators at places such as nature centers; and capuchin monkeys can be kept as service animals through a Cambridge-based program called Helping Hands.

Beyond those exceptions, primates — even the 1-pound variety — are prohibited as pets.

On Thursday, the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game confiscated Che Che, and the couple admits they did not have the pet permit necessary to own her.

Mrs. Short said she and her husband did contact the state to inquire about permitting, but she said, "They were just under the assumption it was a chimpanzee and they want us to follow all sorts of regulations, put locks on our cabinets and lock the refrigerator. It just didn't make sense."

However, they would like to do whatever possible to get Che Che back, but if not, get her returned to the exotic pet dealer she came from in Florida.

"She's just something I wanted. She's so cute," Mrs. Short said. "She's like a little person."

The Shorts are dismayed without the miniature pet they have nursed since she was 6 weeks old, and do not know where she is being held or how she is doing.

In Webster, Che Che had her own room. She had a cage with a heating pad; she had stuffed animal monkeys to keep her company, toys and a rope to swing on. Mrs. Short first fed her baby formula with a syringe, but she grew to eat a diet of fruits and vegetables, and just recently tried — and liked — cotton candy. She touched snow for the first time this winter and did not enjoy it.

The Shorts would take her in a pet carrier to visit friends; she had a harness and a bungee cord-type leash to walk around. She would ride on the back of the Great Dane.

"If you were having a bad day, you could just look at her and smile," Mrs. Short said.

"She's our pet. I don't care about the price of her; I just want to know how she is," Mrs. Short said. "If she can't come back to us, I want her to go back to Florida, to the place we got her from."

- Telegram & Gazette

Recent Entries

Archive

Share | |

Recent Video

Newsletter

Sign up for the PRC Newsletter and receive regular updates about our efforts to help primates in the wild and in captivity. Fill in your email address below.

Your Email

Our Privacy Policy