"You become responsible forever, for that which you have tamed." Antione de St. Exupery
You begin by talking to breeders or brokers after seeing photos of these adorable sweet-faced babies gazing affectionately at their caregivers. Understandably, your heart melts. They are often pictured wearing little diapers cuddling a stuffed bunny and, what can I say?...There is nothing more precious than a baby monkey. They appeal to us on so many levels. So like us in so many ways that we can't help but find them captivating. So the next step is you convincing yourself that in spite of the warnings, caring for one of these charming creatures can't be all that complicated. I so wish I had sound effects, because the next thing you hear is the screeching of brakes on pavement or better yet, the sound of a metal screw dragged forcefully down a blackboard. Now is the time for that troublesome little thing called a reality check! Baby monkey behavior bears little (if any) resemblance to how they act as adults and trust that sweet baby stage doesn't last very long. You are quickly confronted with a mature, intelligent and opportunistic creature that is incredibly strong, stubbornly independent and highly resistant to being told what to do. Larger breeds can easily open cages, doors, windows and refrigerators, rip furniture to shreds, and virtually destroy a home in mere minutes. Even small primates like marmosets and tamarins can cause measurable damage breaking dishes, knickknacks, pulling pictures off walls and spilling contents of every canister and container that isn't securely stored up and out of the way. Is every aspect of primate ownership negative? No, of course not, but you have to have realistic expectations and temper your desire with some serious reality checks. Monkeys are not the problem. misinformed and ill-prepared owners are.
Please do not address your questions to a breeder or even to new owners about what it's like to parent and care for a monkey. When talking to a breeder anxious to score a profit, insist on speaking with previous owners that have five and six-year olds. Where are they? Sadly, you will find the vast majority of them have been sent to sanctuaries or shuffled from one disillusioned owner to another for biting or misbehaving. Some end up locked away in cages, alone and despondent, never realizing that their natural behavior was so unacceptable. Even small primates are deceptively strong and cunning and can be difficult (and potentially dangerous) to manage. Their small size is no indicator of the challenges you will face integrating them into your human family. It can be done successfully and the rewards are many, but there are no short cuts and very little room for error. You don't get do-overs and mistakes made have serious, long-lasting implications. Don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise. People downplaying what a serious undertaking this is are either grossly misinformed or trying to score a profit.
Are you Prepared to Have a Monkey as a Companion?
I've shared my life with monkeys for years, but I still don't recommend it. Being a monkey owner simply is NOT for everyone. I've seen times that a monkey was obtained as a novelty or a way to be considered "cool" and get attention. Teenagers wanting monkeys have to realize that with a life expectancy of twelve to fifteen years (or more), that monkey has to go with them to college and along on their honeymoon! If you are in school during the day and your mom is the caregiver, that will never be your monkey. Are you foregoing prom and date night to stay home and care for your pet? What happens to this precious animal when the burden of care gets in the way of normal activities and the novelty wears off? I've witnessed over-indulgent parents disregard advice and get monkeys because the kids thought they were cute, not realizing that in the monkey world there is an order to family structure and that every individual has a "place". As the monkey matures, this natural behavior can lead to dangerous aggression toward one family member or possession of another. I've had people argue that in spite of their non-monkey appropriate lifestyle, they were getting one because they "just love monkeys so much". To that I'm compelled to ask...Do you?...Really?
Monkeys are a complex species that require knowledge of husbandry and nutrition. They require adequate enclosures, toys for mental stimulation, nurturing, discipline and 24/7 dedication...without exception.
As monkeys mature they lose their "cute" appeal and become less manageable and difficult to control. If the caregiver is unable to adjust expectations and make compromises, these monkeys lose their homes and the only family they know. To take on the task of raising a monkey and then backing away is not only irresponsible, it is unconscionably cruel. Helpless primate infants closely bond to their caregivers almost immediately. You are their only family. They depend on you for food, for security, for companionship and love. Much like studies have shown that human children who are passed from one unfamiliar home to another suffer severe (and often permanent) psychological trauma, monkeys do as well. These "second hand" pets suffer greatly as they are sold and resold. This trauma leads to depression, detachment and aggressive behavior including self mutiliation that makes them even less desirable until they are alone and unwanted.
Under natural conditions monkeys live in closely knit social groups and have constant companionship. They are never alone. They eat together, share their food and sleep bundled in each others arms. Now think about the number of minutes per day you spend with other pets such as a cat or dog. Thirty minutes? Two hours?...maybe? Take your dog out briefly and then promise him a longer walk on the weekend? Primates need more... so much more. Once you remove an infant primate from its mother with the intent to make it your pet, you become its life. That baby's world revolves entirely on his dependency on you. His fear and feeling of helplessness rests upon your ability to care for him. Think about it! Planning to have a job? Do lunch with friends? See a movie? Enjoy a day-spa? Spend the afternoon shopping? Assuming you can continue leading your normal life while leaving your pet to spend the day alone locked in a cage is both unnatural and inhumane, and trust that doing so will have grave and long-lasting consequences.
Make this decision carefully. Please don't gloss over the information and advice you've been given. Regardless of how well-intentioned you think you are, making the leap to adopt a primate without seriously weighing the consequences will only end tragically for both of you.Deny it or rationalize it any way you want to. The facts are what they are and you will not be the exception to the rule.
If you have general questions or need details about any of our products, or if you just need to "monkey" talk, please contact me at (253) 862-0432 or email me at LindaLawrence@aol.com If I'm unable to answer your questions, I'll do my best to direct you to someone who can.