Do Primates make Good Pets?
Most people have seen the irresistibly cute pictures or videos of little chimpanzee babies holding the hands of their owner or a capuchin monkey sitting on someone's shoulder and thought to themselves "that is the cutest thing I've ever seen, I wish I had one of those.”

But is this really a good idea? Most owners of pet primates have not really given this much thought before purchasing their new cuddly little pet. Many people think that due to their similarities to humans that it is ok to keep them in your home. However this is far from the truth. Primates are completely unsuited for a life of "domestication” and do not make good pets.

Primates are social animals, meaning that they need to be around others of their own kind. All primates learn their behaviours from others in their family group. They are taught how to forage for food, how the social structure works and even how to display the correct behaviours for breeding. They basically learn how to be monkeys. We humans can never replace or fulfill this role and by keeping them in our homes we deprive them of their natural behaviours.

Primates that are kept as pets have no idea of how to act or behave like a primate. They are completely imprinted on people and even begin to act like one. They pick up human habits and behaviours to their own detriment. A good example of this is that humans smile and show their teeth when they are happy, to a primate a show of teeth can be either a sign of aggression or submission. Pet monkeys learn this behaviour from their owners and also do the same when they are happy. For this reason they will never be able to function as part of a family group.

They are also very messy, nappies may be put onto babies but an adult has more than enough intelligence to take it off. The practice of putting nappies on primate babies is an extremely unnatural behavior that is forced onto them by humans who wish to treat these animals like human babies. It is an extremely cruel practice that causes skin infections and rashes as their bodies are not adapted to deal with the materials that are found in nappies.

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South Africa has a rich diversity of flora and fauna and is a destination of choice for eco-tourists and sports hunters as well as being a source of wild animals. As a result of their monetary value and the need for their keepers to conform to provincial conservation and national legislation, wild animals are perhaps better cared for than most, although their most basic need – freedom – is denied them.

Therefore recommendations for improvements at all facilities inspected form part of our ongoing strategy to uplift the lives of wild animals in captivity. National issues and problems are addressed through the development of standards for the benefit of animals within the wildlife industry. We are also active in providing welfare input into national and provincial legislation which control wild animal use.

Activities include -- wildlife rescue operations, lobbying to outlaw unethical practices, monitoring of conditions in zoos, sanctuaries and rehabilitation centres, elephant-back safaris, captive predator facilities et al through pro-active inspections and complaint investigations.

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Date updated:12/02/2016




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