Why Primates Are NOT Pets
I cannot deny the fact the baby monkeys are irresistibly cute. They seem so much like a human infant, it’s difficult not to instantly fall for them and fight the urge to care for them. BUT there are real dangers to keeping monkeys as pets – not just for humans, but for the monkeys themselves too.
Primates are highly intelligent, emotionally complex, and have long lifespans (sometimes up to 40 years). They need to be around their own kind in order to develop properly. After learning the environment in a human’s house, they will never be able to fit in any other home. They will never learn how to properly interact with other primates. Most of the primates are highly social beings and require a lot attention and even contact to survive.
They also require large amounts of space and an environment that cannot be duplicated in a human home. Small confinement and abnormal living situations usually lead to the development of stress behaviors such as hair pulling, rocking, or self-harm (to name a few).
Health is a concern also. Many primates carry viruses that can be fatal to humans and are transferred through bites or scratches. However, we carry many viruses that can be fatal for primates as well. For example, human cold sores can kill small monkeys like tamarins and marmosets.
Once primates reach sexual maturity they can become aggressive. In an attempt to assert dominance, a primate can harm its human family. Most families will then look for a new home for the primate. Zoos do not take previous pets. Most of the time the animals get resold and resold into new homes, or will end up at a sanctuary to live out the remained of their life. Others can be sent to labs or be used in breeding programs. Any of these options are far from ideal for the primate.
Some primate owners will go as far as removing nails and teeth or abuse them to eliminate this “threat”. Primates are wild animals and these natural behaviors cannot be altered.
Think twice before keeping a primate as a pet.
For more reading, check these out:
The Perils of Keeping Monkeys as Pets – National Geographic