Hopefully, you have carefully weighed the rewards and consequences and remain steadfast in your decision to go down the path of monkey ownership. Here are a few guidelines to help you maneuver the confusing maze of breeders and brokers. Who you purchase your monkey from is very important. Are they reputable? Do they have proper knowledge of husbandry and genetics to assure you are getting a healthy baby? A few quick questions can help you assess the type of person you are dealing with and prevent you from being taken for a ride. Monkeys are expensive and in high demand making the whole industry, sadly, full of scam artists and predators. Having arrived at the decision to obtain a primate, I would like to see you get off to a good start with a healthy baby, armed with knowledge of what to do and what to expect.
Make sure that your Breeder is USDA licensed. Ask to see the license. In the event your initial conversation is over the phone, simply ask for their federal number and look them up for validation. It only takes a few minutes of your time.
Always try to buy directly from a breeder rather than going through a broker. It's important to know the history and lineage of your baby. Brokers, as a general rule don't have any of this information at their disposal.
Ask around for referrals from current monkey owners to help you find a breeder and please, never be tempted to send money for a monkey sight unseen to someone you don't know. Never pay for a monkey in full before seeing it.
Ask lots of questions...even the ones your research has already given you the answers to. Ask about adult behavior. Ask about aggression. Get details on proper nutrition, caging requirements and enrichment. Ask how much time and money you need to invest to care for your monkey. If they downplay the commitment expected of you , walk away. They are more interested in making a sale then doing right by you or the primate.
Responsible breeders care a great deal for the monkeys they breed. If you aren't asked a lot of questions challenging your suitability, walk away. You aren't dealing with a good breeder.
Ask the breeder for a list of his previous customers and ask if you can speak to them. They can tell you first hand if their baby was healthy. Ask to speak to his prior customers that have older monkeys. They can let you know if the breeder made himself available for questions and if he/she was as committed after closing the sale as he was to taking their money. Also, if there are several owners with older monkeys in good health, it addresses the soundness of his breeding stock.
Test the breeder's knowledge of various primate breeds and typical temperaments, health issues and diseases. Find out what they know about the monkeys they are selling. Different breeds are better to suited to specific living arrangements. How interested is the breeder in making a good match?
If the breeder suggests getting more than one monkey and tries to convince you that different breeds can peacefully coexist...walk away. Tamarins will NOT get along with capuchins. Marmosets will not get along with Spider monkeys. NO NO NO.
Ask to see paperwork on parentage. If the breeder doesn't know the details of this baby's genealogy... walk away
Is the breeder pushing this sale or are they receptive to you sleeping on your decision. If they seem overly anxious to close the deal, walk away. You aren't buying a used car that someone else will drive off the lot.
If possible ask your breeder if you can spend the day at their compound and see how they care for their charges. This way you can observe first hand how involved the breeder is with his/her animals as well as learn how to care for your baby. Good breeders welcome new potential parents to spend some time learning the ropes.
Again, if you buy your baby in person, you can asses it's health and verify it's age. Better to be out airfare than thousands of dollars for an animal that was misrepresented to you.
Before bringing your baby home, make prior arrangements to visit the breeder's vet and get your health certificate in person. I can't emphasize enough how important this is to protect yourself if something goes wrong. A vet isn't likely to "fast track" a certificate of health if you are standing right there asking questions.
Does the breeder offer you a guarantee to the extent that should this baby die from a genetic problem and through no fault of yours that you will either get a refund or another baby? If he/she is unwilling to do this in writing, walk away. Baby monkeys cost thousands of dollars and you have the right to expect a healthy and genetically sound infant.
If a breeder even suggests that it would be perfectly safe to ship an infant primate under eight weeks of age, walk away. Anyone that would suggest such an outrageous thing has no regard for the life of this little primate. Ideally, if you are obtaining a primate, you should have it as early as possible to begin the bonding process.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of picking your baby up in person. Not only will this let you visit the breeder and inspect the operation, but often shipping a primate unescorted can be very dangerous for them. In the air travel climate of today, flights are often delayed or canceled altogether. What if there is a need to switch planes? What if weather turns suddenly or there are other extenuating circumstances that endanger your baby? Please keep in mind that the cargo hold of any airplane is intended for cargo. Although ventilated, it was never designed to support life or maintain a temperature stable environment. Infant primates have very little in the way of reserves and hours without nourishment or temperature extremes can (and has) been fatal.
Ask lots of questions from as many sources as you can. Verify what you hear. Get second opinions. Your decision to begin sharing your life with a non human primate will be life altering. I'd say this isn't the time to begin taking short cuts or believing everything you hear. Good breeders and good monkey parents never mind answering your questions. If you are new to monkey ownership, asking questions...the right questions is just a wise thing to do. Getting as much information as possible from as many sources as you can will be the best way to educate yourself on caring for your new family member.
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.