Born Free USA Blog
by Will Travers,
Chief Executive Officer
What can you say about a big-hearted bloke who has rescued dolphins, tigers, elephants and more and whose parents once helped a lion cub from a department store by caring for him in their backyard and engineering his rightful return to Africa? You can safely say that he's got great animal instincts! In 1984, Will Travers joined his parents — "Born Free" film stars Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers — to form what became The Born Free Foundation. With knowledge, passion and compassion dripping from his every word, Will's blogs are sure to make you embrace our crusade to Keep Wildlife in the Wild ®.
Last Thursday in Shelbyville, Tenn., a “pet” snow monkey escaped from captivity in a private home where four other caged primates later were found without food or water. Yoshi scampered outdoors and bit an unsuspecting neighbor.
“I knew it latched on and bit me pretty hard and I just knew it was furry and I wasn’t even sure at that point” what it was, said Michelle Pyrdum, who subsequently needed stitches on her calf. “I guess I was thinking maybe a raccoon, I just never dreamed a monkey.”
If only “pet” monkeys were merely a dream! What happened to Pyrdum was a nightmare — for her, of course, but also for Yoshi, who was shot dead by police. One of the responding officers, who reported Yoshi had been “friendly” during a call years before, said the monkey was uncooperative this time around and injured him. Uncooperative?!
Why would we expect an inherently wild animal to cooperate with human wishes? As our newly posted “Facts about Primates as ‘Pets’ ” attests, “pet” monkeys who are cute and cuddly as infants start to become aggressive and unpredictable once they reach age 2.
I still can’t believe it’s legal to keep nonhuman primates as pets. According to Born Free USA’s Color-Coded Map of Laws Governing Private Possession of Primates, Tennessee has a partial ban on private ownership, ownership of baboons, orangutans and gorillas (who in his right mind would want a pet gorilla?), but not smaller primates such as Japanese macaques (also known as snow monkeys).
So as the authorities in Tennessee pointed out, Pyrdum’s neighbors were not breaking the law. But they certainly were asking for trouble. Monkeys are not domesticated, and to pretend they are is just plain silly.
You, as a supporter of Born Free USA, don’t need to be convinced of the ignorance of having a “pet” monkey. But if you have friends who need more evidence, please point them toward our Exotic Animal Incidents database and they’ll discover more than 250 cases in which primates and their “owners” have been involved in violent clashes.
Pyrdum and the police officer were injured for no good reason. Yoshi died in vain. No wild animal should have to pay the ultimate price for human mistakes.
P.S. Let’s do all we can to stop this nightmare idea of having “pet” monkeys. Support Born Free USA’s effort to stop the trade in pet primates.