Chimpanzees Don't Make Good Pets

Chimpanzee and monkey infants are irresistibly cute, and it might seem that raising one would be just like raising a human child. As infants, chimpanzees are affectionate, needy, and a delight to interact with. But chimpanzees grow up fast, and their unique intelligence makes it difficult to keep them stimulated and satisfied in a human environment. By age 5 they are stronger than most human adults. They become destructive and resentful of discipline. They can, and will, bite. Chimpanzee owners have lost fingers and suffered severe facial damage.

Reality Bites
Infant chimpanzees normally receive 24-hour attention from their mothers. Chimpanzee mothers will sleep with one hand on their child so contact is constant. No human can approach this level of caretaking. There are other problems: constant messes, demanding feeding schedule and the natural need chimpanzees have for mental stimulation. Bear in mind, captive primates can live 50- 60 years.

Chimpanzee owners often don’t travel because they can’t find suitable caretakers for their pets. Furthermore, chimpanzees are likely to rebel when owners come home late from work or have irregular schedules. Space is another obstacle. Homes are not large enough to keep these active animals happy.

While infant chimps can be diapered, once puberty hits most chimps resist diapers and clothing. Additionally, chimpanzees can make a mess that will daunt even the most practiced housekeeper. Imagine a toddler having the strength to move tables, pull down curtains and climb to anything put out of reach. It is impossible to train chimps to behave totally like humans.

Nonhuman primates are used frequently in medical research because they are susceptible to many of the same diseases as humans such as herpes, viral hepatitis, and measles. These diseases can be transferred easily from them to us and vice versa.

Aggression is a natural aspect of chimpanzee behavior and it is not uncommon for chimps to bite each other in the wild. However much a misguided chimp owner continues to love his or her "child," the chimpanzee will be too dangerous to keep as part of the family. Many owners, to delay the inevitable day that the chimp will have to be removed from the house, will pull the chimp's teeth, put on shock collars — even remove thumbs in the mistaken notion that this will make it impossible for the chimp to climb the drapes.

Giving Them Up
The day will come when despite all best efforts the chimpanzee must go. The owners often feel betrayed by the animals that they raised and devoted so much attention to. Sadly, they cannot be sent back to Africa. Most zoos will not take ex-pets because human-reared chimpanzees do not know chimp etiquette and tend not to fit into established groups. Tragically, many pet chimps end up in medical research laboratories. Because owners are asked not to visit the chimps — so as not to disturb them in their "new-found happiness" — the former chimp owners never realize the horrendous conditions to which they have condemned their friend.

Legality
Many states, counties, cities and towns have laws banning the ownership of non-human primates.

Take Action!
Please ask your Senator to support the Captive Primate Safety Act. It will prohibit interstate and foreign commerce in primates as pets.To find your senator’s contact information, go to http://www.usa.gov 


 WANT TO RAISE A CHIMP? THINK AGAIN.

Chimpanzees are meant to live in the wild, not in our homes. Those that have been taken from the forest and their mothers belong in a sanctuary or a high quality zoo. Like human children, ape children learn in a social context, by watching and imitating adults. Chimps that grow up apart from a normal group fail to learn the nuances of chimp etiquette, and are likely to behave abnormally. As adults, chimpanzees have at least five times the strength of humans – too much for any pet owner to manage! Zoos usually refuse to accept pets because they tend not to fit into established groups. Historically, many pet chimps ended up in medical research laboratories. Today they are likely to end up in a roadside zoo. 


Addtional Resources

Opinion by Jane Goodall, "Loving Chimps to Death"

Center for Great Apes (provides permanent sanctuary in a safe and enriching environment for orangutans and chimpanzees in need of long-term life care.)

National Geographic News: The Perils of Keeping Monkeys as Pets
"If you try to keep them as pets you're creating a mentally disturbed animal in 99.9 percent of the cases."

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JGI News and Highlights

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Saving Chimps From Snares (Graphic Images)!

This is the story of Mugu Moja, a young juvenile chimpanzee.