Legal Or Ethical: The Primate Pet Trade


Today I want to talk a little about the primate pet trade.

Last year, Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre bumped up and promoted their campaign titled “STAMP It Out” (Stop The Trade and Abuse of Monkeys as Pets). This then went to DEFRA to be discussed in parliament – a call to action where those against the primate pet trade emailed in their reasons why.

I was one of those people. Actually, I had an idea for a campaign myself last year to try and work alongside the STAMP it out campaign where I wanted to highlight the life of a primate being kept domestically. It was going to be called Cinnamon’s Challenge, and I set up provisional social media accounts for it. This all happened to coincide with the call to action and I realised I probably didn’t have the time scale to really implement the campaign – the blogs, the social media etc so I unfortunately had to wave goodbye to it. Perhaps I will resurrect it? We’ll see.

Anyway. You might be sitting there wondering what the big deal is about keeping a monkey as a pet – surely that’s a really cool thing to have as a pet? Didn’t Ross Geller have a capuchin as a pet?!

Yes he did, and no it’s not cool. As with any pets, the question that you should ask yourself is “can I afford to look after this pet and meet all of it’s needs?”

First of all, are you able to provide the correct food for them? (More than bananas which are high in sugar for them.) Are you able to afford your pet bills and buy the appropropriate equipment and toys for them? And, with primates, most of them are social so are you able to afford a second one to give your pet the best life possible and with the correct social skills they should possess?

Chances are, the answer is no, and if the answer is yes, ask yourself if the novelty of it would wear off for you eventually.

Most monkeys which are legally kept as pets are kept in inappropriate conditions, or are fed inappropriately. Or, worst of all, are products of the illegal pet trade, where apes such as Chimpanzees, Orangutans, and yes, even the smaller monkeys are taken away from their mothers (or their mothers are killed) so these animals can be sold as a pet.

I mention Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre in this post as, not only do I support the organisation (I actually adopt two orangutans at the park) but many of the residents at the centre are survivors of the pet trade, or survivors of other trauma (ex photographers props as an example for many chimpanzees; ex laboratory animals for the macaques and some capuchins etc.) The centre also document their rescues on their TV show, Monkey Life.

Currently, and as far as I am aware, it is still legal to own a primate as a pet in the UK. But is it ethical? I really don’t believe so, and this is a topic that really needs to be discussed as I’m sure many of us think about having exotic pets and how great we feel it may be, no thanks to shows like Tiger King.

Another thing just before I go: there are many videos and photos circulating online of monkeys as pets, and showing how cute they are. Please be wary of those posts. Monkeys should not have to perform for humans, and if they are anything like photographers props, may have been subjected to horrible abuse (such as having their teeth knocked out) in order to perform what they are. Sharing these posts only promotes the abuse, so please approach with caution!

What are your opinions on this topic? Let’s start a discussion!

Until next time, be excellent to each other

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