I used to think monkeys were generally pretty cool and fun. The little ones would make a neat, little exotic pet. You could probably teach one to play video games or drive you to work. And a chimpanzee would be wonderful to play with chess with.
My opinion has changed.
I don’t want to make light of the unspeakably vicious chimp-on-human attack in Connecticut, the other week. It’s a real tragedy - for the victim, the owner, and the chimp. It serves as a poignant example of the fact that wild animals should not be forced to live unnaturally human lives.
How would you feel like if you had to live in the jungle, totally naked, with nothing to eat but termites and bananas? And nowhere to plug in your hairdryer. You would go ape shit, so to speak, and flip out unexpectedly on some innocent animal. So how can you blame a wild animal for going ape shit on a person?
But if any good could possibly come from such a sad event, it’s that monkeys really scare me shitless now. I will never, ever, own one.
Furthermore, I’ve realized that it’s not just the big primates – chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans – that present a clear and present hazard to my well-being. The little macaques, cute porch monkeys, and other adorable furry little squirrel monkeys are terrifying as well.
The New York Times (aka, source of all that is true) ran a lengthy article today about primate owners, and the almost incestuous attachment to their pets. In practically every case, the owners have been attacked or physically threatened by their monkeys at some point. And most attacks were described something like this: “I was with my monkey, eating an ice cream cone, and he suddenly flipped out and bit my arms, legs, and face. I had to call my friend to kill the monkey with a gun, but thankfully, I was able to knock my monkey unconscious with a nearby anvil. Boy did I learn a valuable lesson. My monkey now sleeps in my son’s room.”
Additionally - and to increase my fear to an even higher level – once a monkey reaches puberty, he begins to feel the need to dominate all the humans around him. This begins with the smallest humans or young children, but eventually works it way up to adults. To dominate in the wild, means to kill. Add to that the fact that monkeys are far stronger than humans on a pound for pound basis. A 25 pound monkey can take down a full-grown person. An adult chimp is seven times stronger than an adult human.
They usually go for the face, hands and genitals first, before attacking the internal organs. It’s simply instinctual. They know how to hurt you, as they would their wild monkey enemies.
How could you keep one of these cooped up in your home? It’s like storing uranium under your bed, or keeping a jar of sulfuric acid perched perilously above the toilet.
They are terrible, terrible pets. Leave them in the wild, or at least give them other monkeys to live with in a zoo or nature preserve.
I’m sure some of them are nice, and loving. But so are dogs and cats.