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Most people buy monkeys of 3-4 months old or younger. The appearance of an infant can be quite deceiving. Infant monkeys differ greatly in behavior and appearance from mature monkeys.

The Six Most Common Reasons People Buy Pet Monkeys:

"They're so cute!!" (I love the way they look!!)

"They're so cool!!" (Different), (Attention Getting)

"I wanted an unusual pet." (Wanted an unusual pet for the kids)

"They're so adorable dressed up like people!"

"I've always wanted a monkey!" (Wanted to know what it would be like)

"They have to be the most special pet you can get.

The 12 Most Common Reasons People Give Up Pet Monkeys:

An incident involving one or more of the behaviors below:

A serious bite or other aggressive behavior
 -- usually toward a child or other family member, sometimes a friend or stranger.

Monkey is "disobedient", won't mind, gets into things or tears off diapers or clothes.

Monkey has gotten loose and caused household damage.

Interference with family unity
 -- monkey likes some family members and dislikes/attacks others.

Messiness-with food, droppings, cage mess or while loose in the house

Other "problem behavior."
 -- such as loud vocalizations, urine scenting, male erections, male or female masturbating.

A legal case involving a bite or scratch or disease

Other Common Reasons:

Not enough time to spend with monkey--to busy to take care of.

Not enough space to house monkey.

Monkey is illegal

One or more family members dislike the monkey

The family is moving

A Few Thoughts About Displaced Monkeys

Be clear about what a monkey is before you get one so that you will not be disappointed later. If you want a monkey as a novelty item, an attention getter or a cross between a doll and a child, you may be very happy with an infant--but not with a growing or full-grown, monkey.

Remember, monkeys are different than dogs and cats in that they do not retain "tameness" or "docility", without a continued significant investment of time. Even with an investment of time, monkeys naturally progress to behaviors of adolescence and maturity that make them less compatible with most humans and their human households.

The caretaker skills required for successfully working with the behavior of a growing monkey are close to the skills of a professional animal trainer or animal behaviorist. In short, offering a fair, fulfilling life to a monkey is much more difficult, truly, than anyone can first imagine.

As they grow into adolescents, all monkeys are less manageable in terms of human expectations, harder to control as "pets". At this time, if the owner cannot begin to make appropriate compromises, monkeys are then sold to new owners.

Studies show that children who are passed from unfamiliar home to home suffer psychological trauma which is permanently damaging. Also, moving is a major stressor for people and animals alike.

Monkeys who become "second hand monkeys" suffer greatly when they are sold and resold: Extreme psychological distress, often internalized--plus despondency, detachment, severe depression, aggressive behaviors, self aberrant or mutilating behaviors can be the long or short term emotional result for monkeys who are bounced from home to home.

A Call For Higher Standards

Honesty from Breeders, Dealers, and Brokers: Let the new monkey owner know what they are getting into, the complex caretaking skills required, the cost of proper cage setups, diet and vet care, zoonotic disease, licensing information and public health concerns. Ask to see a photograph of proper sized housing in which the monkey you are selling will live.

Accountability In New Monkey Owners: Make an educated choice. Learn as much as you can about the care of monkeys before you buy. Have the proper sized housing setups from day one, that is, build the proper cage before you buy the monkey. Also have veterinary care lined up, provisions for social companionship, knowledge of health and diet, toys and other enrichment and a fund budgeted aside for possible extra monkey costs. Make sure you understand permit requirements and public health concerns.

Commitment In New and Old Monkey Caretakers: Stay committed to ongoing, supportive education, to upgrade housing, vet care, enrichment, social or other conditions when necessary. Stay up-to-date on legislation and public health concerns.


Click here to read about The Monkey Underworld

So Now You Know--

You have the message. Maybe you are wondering how or why anyone would want a monkey. Regardless of the pitfalls, some people remain steadfast in their special love and commitment to the nonhuman primates. Some people are very talented in understanding monkeys and their behavior, enjoy working with them and may even love them more than their human counterparts. If after reviewing all this information, you believe you can join the ranks of the dedicated, please read on.

Rate yourself as a caretaker.

Reality Check


1996 Monkey Matters Magazine
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