If you or a friend are thinking about purchasing any type of primate (ape, monkey, lemur, marmoset, etc.) as a pet, we hope that you will take into consideration the following reasons that primates of any kind make terrible pets and choose not to contribute to the primate pet trade.
1. Monkeys are ripped from their mother’s arms as babies (at just a few days old) to be sold to humans as pets. Not only is this extremely traumatic for the baby, but also to the mother who will be bred again and again, only to suffer the same fate for each pregnancy.
2. Primates are expensive to purchase and care for. They have very specific diet, enrichment, and housing needs that are expensive and will take up most of your time. Many captive primates develop diabetes, which is also difficult and costly to treat, if you can even find a veterinarian who will treat a monkey.
3. As babies they are adorable and sweet, but once they hit puberty (around age 3) their demeanor will completely change. They will become unpredictable, aggressive, unmanageable, and dangerous, often biting and scratching even their most favored caregiver. No amount of training will tame a wild animal or keep them from asserting their dominance. Monkeys can live to be 20-40 years old, which is a long time to care for an aggressive, biting animal.
4. They will destroy your home and make it stink! Throwing feces and urine, “poop painting” on the walls, and urinating everywhere are typical monkey behaviors in a human home. You may think that diapers are the answer, but even if a monkey would agree to wear one, they often cause painful sores and rashes, and they restrict the tail muscles from developing normally causing physical damage to the primate. (Life at the sanctuary allows these animals the freedom to express these species-specific behaviors, without forcing them into difficult, hands-on situations. We are able to feed, clean, and enrich all primate areas without direct contact with any primate)
5. Hierarchy! Primates naturally want to be the one in charge in a group, or at least be second in command. This means that generally a primate will bond with one person who they think is in charge, and then perceive everyone else as the enemy. They will attack humans with vicious bites and scratches to maintain their status in the group. This means ultimately you will be left alone with your monkey, cut off from normal social interactions with your family and friends, and unable to enjoy time away from your home or to take family vacations.
6. Monkeys can carry parasites and zoonotic diseases that are dangerous to humans. They may seem to be in perfect health, but when they inevitably bite or scratch you, you may end up with a variety of health issues passed to you from your monkey that were dormant in the monkey’s system.
7. Primates are social animals who need to be around their own kind in order to develop normally, both psychologically and emotionally. Humans are no substitute for a real monkey mom’s care. No matter how hard you try to give them a good life, you will still cause psychological damage to your beloved monkey. Period.
8. Primate ownership is illegal in many states. You may be able to buy a monkey in one state then try to bring it into your state only to find that you have violated a state regulation and must forfeit your monkey and pay a hefty fine. Check your state’s regulations on exotic pet ownership.
9. Purchasing a monkey fuels the exotic pet trade. It encourages primate breeders to continue the vicious cycle, and poachers to continue to kill adult primates so they can take their babies to sell. Don’t contribute to this sad, abusive supply and demand trend.
10. You may think a sanctuary is your fallback plan if your monkey gets aggressive, however space is extremely limited and there is not always room or funds available for your primate to be taken in. Many primate pets end up living in a small cage with no way to safely clean or enrich them because pet owners are unable to secure sanctuary placement for their pets and they are afraid of being injured.
If you have any further questions, or need clarification on any of the reasons you should never get a pet monkey, please call the Primate Rescue Center at (859) 858-4866, or visit our website to learn more about the plight of primates in captivity. If you don’t want to take our word for it, watch this In Their Own Words video to listen to former owners talk about their regrets in bringing a monkey into their home.