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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Who’s Your Monkey Baby?

Published 10/01/09
By Nicole G. Paquette, Esq., Senior Vice President and General Counsel

In the era of reality TV shows — which I have to readily admit that I have watched my fair share of these (some of which I am rather embarrassed to admit to) — The Learning Channel (TLC) has sunk to an all time low with its new show My Monkey Baby.

No ... Jon and Kate have not adopted a monkey .... although Jon is leaving the show ... it is a new show glorifying the keeping of monkeys as children! The show airs on October 4 and chronicles a couple who keep a capuchin as a “pet” but treat the monkey as their daughter. The couple dresses the monkey, who they have named Jessica Marie, in designer clothes, put makeup on her, and buy her children’s toys.

While groups like Born Free USA are trying to prohibit people from owning these animals due to animal welfare concerns and public safety issues, TLC is promoting this “ownership” with airing this program.

Does TLC not think that some people may view this program and think that it is a good idea to buy a monkey and treat him/her like a child?

There are approximately 15,000 nonhuman primates in private hands in the US and this program may in fact increase that number! Monkeys do not make good “pets” and they certainly do not make good surrogate children!

Monkeys are highly social, intelligent animals with complex behavioral and psychological needs. They require companionship with other monkeys, group living, space, and an enriched environment. Deprived of the companionship of others of their kind and raised like children in human households, these highly social, sensitive, and intelligent animals lead lonely and dysfunctional lives. They often develop abnormal, stereotypical behavior such as pacing, rocking, and self-mutilation. Many “owners” will also deliberately mutilate their “pet” primates to make them more manageable, by having their canine teeth (or all teeth) as well as their fingernails surgically removed.

Then, after cute little baby monkeys endure all this, reach maturity, and become completely unhandleable, people think they can pawn them off on already overloaded sanctuaries. The Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary already houses more than 500 monkeys, many of which came from the same conditions I describe above. There are very few primate sanctuaries in the U.S., and so many of them are unable to accept more animals.

Please contact TLC and urge its management to pull this program from their line-up.

Blogging off,


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