Monkey are not pets
Social media is full of posts that go viral very easily. We see a Loris "enjoy" being tickled, or a Capuchin looking cute with a diaper on, and respond with an automatic "aaaw, isn't that cute!" Many people watch a video like this and call us, at the Primate Sanctuary, and ask if we can sell them a monkey. There are also less-innocent people who illegally buy a monkey and keep it in their business in order to attract clients or impress their environment. We have saved monkeys from surprising places – horse riding farms, family resorts, plant nurseries and even brothels. There seem to be no limits when it comes to attracting clients.
What innocent animal lovers, alongside with less innocent attraction owners, do not seem to bare in mind, is that keeping a monkey as a pet is illegal in Israel, according to the laws protecting wild animals captive. Over and above that, it is genuinely cruel.
How does a monkey get to Israel?
Criminal traders smuggle monkeys to Israel in horrendous conditions, after buying them from hunters who kidnaped them from their family. This usually happens at the price of the mother's life, or/and the lives of other monkeys in the troop, all in the name of people that want to "adopt" a monkey. Obviously, the trade directly encourages hunting in the countries of the monkey's origin. Each monkey gets sold in Israel for thousands of dollars, so also if many of them die of starvation, heat or cold on the way – the traders are still making a big profit. For example, many years ago we were called to save a Loris from a private home, where he was kept in a tiny drawer in which he could not even turn over. The reason for this was that he developed a necrosis while he was being smuggled, and the family put him in the drawer in order to avoid the smell. That story did not have a happy end – we didn’t manage to save the Loris.
Also the monkeys that we do manage to save, often suffer from unsuitable nutrition, anxieties and ab-normal behaviors.
Monkeys can also be carriers of illnesses that are very dangerous for human beings such as Herpes-B. Obviously, illegal smugglers do not check a monkey's health before selling it, and can seriously endanger the buyers.
Every monkey that we rescue goes through a series of medical check-ups, with the generous help of laboratories abroad, prior to its rehabilitation process.
What happens to a monkey that is held captive in a private home? Are we, as human being, equipped to supply for a monkey's needs? The answer is obviously No!. Monkeys are extremely social animals, and life in a troop is strongly related to their functioning and physical and mental development. A baby monkey is close to his mother at all times, and so he breastfeeds and receives warmth and protection and a sense of security. Sometimes the baby is also carried by aunts and other members of the troop. Later in his or her development, the baby starts to explore the close area but will immediately return to the mother's back. Adult monkeys are also totally dependent on physical contact and social relationships with the rest of the troop, and grooming helps to strengthen social relationships. Can even the great animal lovers among us provide such closeness, 24 hours a day? of course not. People that buy monkeys as an attraction do not even try, and the monkey is imprisoned in a small cage with no interest and company of his species.
Of course, we haven't even talked about the real mess a monkey makes in a human house. If you thought that getting a monkey used to doing its needs in a certain place is easy because it's a smart animal, think again. Monkeys live on the trees and move from place to place and therefore, unlike other animals such as a dog or cat, they do not need to avoid leaving their droppings in the place where they live. Toilet training requires a rigorous and lengthy training that goes against the monkey's natural tendency and causes terrible frustration for the monkey and the owner.
Add to this the amazing damage that a monkey causes to a human home - breaking objects, jumping on desks, opening drawers, playing with electricity, and stirring in the sugar vessel - and you will understand that a monkey cannot be kept at home. Very soon the monkey finds itself in a cage too small for its needs, without proper stimulation, bored and socially isolated. A monkey like this will quickly develop abnormal behaviors such as apathy, repetitive movements, compulsive self-biting and more.
All the "pleasure" we have just described is reserved only for starters, because the real trouble with a monkey-kept-as-a-pet begins when he reaches sexual maturity. No longer a sweet little animal looking for warm touch. An adult monkey with strong, sharp teeth will not hesitate to use it against guests he doesn't like, and also against family members in order to strengthen his position in what he sees as the group's hierarchy, . A monkey bite can be dangerous.
We once received a monkey in our sanctuary, whom, for reasons reserved with him, did not like men who visited the house and attacked them. Another monkey that used to bite was kept in a small cage, his food was thrown into it, and was not removed from it for months and years for fear of assault. He lay there in his secretions until he was rescued, obviously – mentally broken.
The inability to keep a monkey at home often causes people to try to sell off the monkeys they bought and many monkeys are passed on, with every new owner unaware of what they are getting.
Some of the monkeys come to us when the owners understand the mistake they have made, and hope the monkey will get a good life with other monkeys of his species. Some of the owners, who are blind to the suffering of the monkeys, give up the monkeys when they realize they have broken the law Sometimes good people who are sensitive to animal suffering let us know about imprisoned monkeys in dire straits, and then the Nature and Parks Authority takes action and confiscates them and brings them to us for rehabilitation.
As long as there is a demand for cute monkeys, the trade will continue. Hunters will continue to kill entire troops for some babies, and bruised and sick monkeys will be smuggled to various countries of the world and continue to be a valuable commodity.
Awareness is the name of the game, and here at the Israeli Primate Sanctuary we sincerely hope that the awareness that we spread about the fate to these sensitive animals will prevent animal lovers from purchasing a monkey for themselves, or prompt people to report cases of imprisoned monkeys in serious condition.
In short - why monkeys are not pets: