Monkeys Are Not Pets!

Monkey as Pet

Story at-a-glance -

  • Recently pop star Justin Bieber was in the news because one of his friends gifted him with a baby Capuchin monkey. Sadly, German authorities confiscated the monkey because Bieber didn’t have the proper paperwork to import “Mally” into the country while he was performing there.
  • Since Bieber didn’t produce the required documents by the deadline, little Mally became the property of the German government, despite efforts by a primate sanctuary in Florida to bring him back to the states to live with other captive Capuchins.
  • After several weeks of quarantine, Mally has been transferred to a zoo in northern Germany where she will live out her life on “Mally-bu” island. This unfortunate outcome is all too common for primates kept as pets.

By Dr. Becker

You may have read or heard a recent news story about pop singer Justin Bieber and the baby Capuchin monkey he received as a gift.

Apparently Bieber took his new “pet,” Mally, on tour with him, and German authorities confiscated the little fellow (the monkey) after learning Bieber didn’t have the proper import documents.

Mally’s Fate is All Too Common

What people need to know is that Mally’s short ride as a household pet isn’t unusual. According to the New York Post, Capuchins and other monkeys are stolen from their mothers shortly after birth by disreputable breeders who produce and sell animals illegally and often under terrible conditions.

Once monkeys mature, their behavior becomes erratic and often aggressive, and most owners are no longer able to safely care for them. Sadly, it’s common for pet owners to use cruelty to try to keep an adult primate under control. Some monkeys have their teeth pulled out. Many are relegated full time to cages and develop neurotic coping mechanisms as a result.

Monkeys kept as pets can also pose risk of serious injury and disease transmission to the humans who care for them.

And in addition to all that, it’s against the law to keep pet monkeys in most states.

Monkeys Should Never Be Kept as Pets

Debbie Leahy of the Humane Society’s Captive Wildlife Protection division says official estimates are that 15,000 monkeys are kept as pets in the U.S. She believes the actual number is at least twice that.

“Monkeys are not surrogate children, and they’re not little people,” says Leahy. According to experts, a private home simply can’t provide a safe, healthy environment for a primate, no matter how much money the owner is able to spend caring for the animal.

Monkeys should be raised by their natural mothers, and those without mothers should live in large outdoor, tree-filled habitats. Monkeys are very social animals that need to live in groups with other monkeys. Captive primates also require commercially prepared custom diets supplemented with vegetables, greens and fresh fruit.

Bieber’s Monkey Now Belongs to Germany

According to the Post, after learning of Mally’s plight, Kari Bagnall of Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary in Gainesville, FL, tried to contact Bieber with an offer of help. She thought Mally would do well living at the sanctuary in an existing habitat with a surrogate mother and another baby Capuchin.

For some reason German authorities would not or could not return the monkey to the U.S., so Bagnall spent almost two weeks trying unsuccessfully to find Mally a home in Europe.

According to CNN, Bieber had until May 7 to present the right paperwork to reclaim his monkey. He failed to follow through, so Mally officially became the property of the German government.

It now appears the little fellow will live at Serengeti Park, a zoo in northern Germany.
After being taken from Bieber, Mally was quarantined for several weeks at a Munich animal shelter, plus another month at the zoo. According to CNN, while quarantined the monkey clung to a stuffed toy thought to have been given to him by Bieber.

The good news, if there is any, is that Mally will live in the zoo's new monkey area, a tree-covered island called “Mally-bu." The island is equipped with a house for Mally and the six other Capuchins who will eventually join him to live out the rest of their lives in “Mally-bu.”

Thinking about a monkey as a pet? I hope not.

Hopefully the information in this article serves as a cautionary tale for anyone who is considering acquiring a monkey as a pet. Please don’t.

Please don’t convince yourself that you can provide a good life for a primate. Please don’t support or encourage the efforts of those who would steal baby monkeys from their mothers or breed them for profit.

Please leave these beautiful wild creatures in the wild, or alternatively, in the care of primate experts who can provide a proper natural sanctuary for them.