Monkeys and Apes Benefit from Stewardship, Not Ownership
Many of us love monkeys and apes. Their active behavior is fun to watch and their expressive faces can draw us in. Small, newborn monkeys and apes can be even more charming. Sadly, some people take a love of these primates too far.
Rather than admiring them in a natural habitat or at an accredited zoo, some people have chosen to purchase monkeys and apes to keep as pets. Most make this choice without a full understanding of the lifetime of care these species need, or the dangers and difficulties of caring for an exotic pet. The truth is there are many reasons why primate pets are not a good idea.
It’s Bad for You
- Pet primates pose a risk to public health and safety through diseases such as herpes that can be passed to humans.
- Pet primates can cause serious injury through aggressive behavior stemming from unnatural living conditions.
- Pet primates can cause damage to furniture, carpets and other items in the home.
It’s Bad for the Monkey or Ape
- Pet primates are often kept in poor housing due to difficulties with caring for exotic animals in a normal home environment.
- Monkeys and apes need to live or spend time with other troop members to be emotionally healthy. It is nearly impossible to recreate the social structure of the wild in a human home.
- Infant monkeys and apes are separated from their mothers, sometimes just hours after being born, in order to be raised by humans. Imagine how traumatic this must be for mother and infant alike.
It’s Bad for the Environment
- Wild populations are impacted by the smuggling and importing of primates from the wild for the pet trade.
- When these populations are reduced, the delicate balance of nature is forever changed, leaving countless species—not just primates—in jeopardy.
Show you care for primates by enjoying them in the wild, an accredited zoo or a sanctuary—not in a private home.
What You Can Do
- There are a lot of domestic animals that would be appropriate as pets, many of which are living in shelters and in need of homes right now. Your local Humane Society is a good place to start.
- Support Lincoln Park Zoo. The zoo’s Project ChimpCARE initiative assesses the status of chimpanzees living in the United States and seeks to provide them with sustainable housing and appropriate care.
- Download Chimps Should Be Chimps, a free, interactive iPad children’s book that teaches children how chimpanzees deserve to be free from antiquated practices of being dressed up for human amusement.
- See the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Position Paper on Personal Possession of Non-Human Primates
The internet plays an increasing role in fueling the illegal wildlife trade—and changing people’s perceptions about threatened species. Many viral primate pictures and videos feature lemurs, lorises, monkeys or apes as pets in a human setting. Studies have show that portrayals such as these can reinforce people's likelihood of wanting to acquire a primate as a pet. You can help minimize the illegal wildlife trade by simply not sharing or promoting images of pet primates on social media
Become a conscious tourist. Don’t patronize street performers or businesses that use primates as “props” for tourists to pose with for photographic souvenirs.