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Domestic Trade


From IPPL News, April 2003

Become a member of the International Primate Protection League to receive IPPL's quarterly magazine. Click here for more information.

The United States has a vigorous trade in pet monkeys. Although importation of monkeys for the pet trade was banned in 1975, thousands of monkeys are being sold annually. It is impossible to provide exact statistics, as the US government does not maintain a database on pet monkeys because the trade is not fully monitored by any single government agency.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service only deals with endangered species, and the US Department of Agriculture only deals with commercial breeders shipping animals between US states.

The source of some of the monkeys is the wild. Animal dealers have been caught smuggling monkeys across the long and porous Mexico-US border, and some monkeys are smuggled into the US in ingenious ways. In December 2002 a man arriving in Los Angeles on a flight from Thailand was caught with two smuggled monkeys in his pants.

Walter is now a resident of Primarily Primates sanctuary  
Walter, pictured above, is a juvenile White-collared mangabey, an extremely rare species. Walter was found in March of 2003 in Ft. Bend County, Texas running in a field with a pack of dogs. Click here to read more about Walter and White-collared mangabeys.

Dealers in research monkeys import thousands of animals for sale to laboratories. There are no confirmed reports of these facilities leaking monkeys into the pet trade.

By far the biggest source of pet monkeys is the breeder/dealer industry. Breeders collect large colonies of monkeys and, when babies are born, the babies are pulled and sold for several thousand dollars each.

Some primate species are, on paper, protected from interstate trade by the US Endangered Species Act. These are the species officially classified as Endangered, including gibbons, lemurs, Diana monkeys, and cottontop tamarins. Yet all these species show up at primate parties where monkey pet owners get together.

The Internet has greatly facilitated the interstate sale of monkeys. People with no knowledge of monkeys and no qualifications to care for them can pay $3,000 to$35,000 and buy a monkey or an ape. And people do buy them, even though there are many dishonest "scammers" who cheat people wanting a pet monkey, taking their money but never delivering the animal ordered. Sometimes an adult animal is delivered instead of a baby.

Chimpanzees are split-listed on the US Endangered Species Act and can be freely sold interstate. Only chimpanzees living outside the United States are subject to import/export restrictions. Chimps sell for $30,000 or more each.

Primates are wild animals and do not belong in peoples' homes. As infants, they are cute and cuddly, but infancy lasts for only a tiny fraction of a monkeys life. So why would anyone want to purchase a baby monkey kidnapped from his/her mother?

Notices from one of the many electronic bulletin boards suggest several reasons and also show how monkeys can become throwaway pets like cats and dogs. We have corrected grammar and spelling mistakes to make the notices easier to read.

Monkeys as substitute children

Monkeys are wild animals. It is sometimes hard to fathom why anyone would want one. Some people want a "status symbol" pet that they can parade around in public to get attention. This is stressful to monkeys and can lead to people getting bitten. Monkeys can infect humans with numerous ailments that they can harbor--and vice versa.

It is clear from the monkey bulletin boards that many people also see pet monkeys as substitutes for human babies. There are many similarities at birth, but grown-up monkeys become independent and often attack their "owners."

Looking for a baby or young capuchin. My husband and I are unable to have children, and after long and in-depth conversations concerning it feel we are more than ready to make a monkey part of our loving family. Hoping not to exceed the price of $4,500. Please help us make our family complete!


I have some questions for you. If you could possibly find time to respond, I would be very happy. I am 25 years old and married. Since the birth of our son three years ago, we knew we had the room in our hearts for another baby. We've been trying, but seem unable to accomplish anything more than becoming devastated each month. So, we started researching baby monkeys. I don't remember how or when exactly we started searching, but we finally decided to try it. We've narrowed it down to the child-like faced capuchins, and the sweet little marmosets. I know we would be able to provide a loving home, filled with nurturing; the problem we've encountered now is their price. Are only rich people meant to have these adorable babies?


Looking for a baby spider monkey around 2 months of age. Cannot have children of my own so I'm wanting to raise a spider monkey. Willing to pay up to $4,500.


I have been watching Animal Planet and see how a white throated capuchin can take the place of a child. My husband and I can't have children. I couldn't take care of a human baby as I have a very bad back and cannot lift over five pounds. My life at home is pretty boring as husband works all the time. I need the companionship of a capuchin monkey. They are little darlings.


I would love to give a baby or an adult capuchin a loving and safe home for the rest of its life. Would be well cared for and treated like a real baby. Even have its own Christmas stocking and presents.

Monkey fashions

Owners of pet monkeys often dress their babies in human clothing and sometimes call them monkids. This is insulting to the natural identity of these animals, treating the unfortunate animals as human playthings.

I am interested in sewing outfits for small capuchin monkeys. Are they all running around nude??? I am an experienced seamstress and my doll-sized clothes seem to fit these cute little guys. I now have one regular customer. Anyone interested please e-mail me.


Monkey clothes for sale, still look brand new as our baby grew so fast! We have overalls, pants, shirts, shorts and diaper covers they look great and have no fading to them! All clothes can be mixed and matched for easy dressing! Please e-mail for prices. Very durable by a super great seamstress!


Harness and leash for marmosets and tamarins; also diapers and sleeping tubes for marmosets and tamarins.

Looking for surrogate friends

People interested in acquiring pet primates often seem to expect the animals to take the place of human friendship.

After reading this message board, I realized that no one has said anything about the most famous, and my favorite monkey; a chimpanzee. Is it illegal to own one? Because I am looking to buy. I will give it all the love I can because I have wanted one my whole life.


Hi, I am 11 years old. I'm looking for a capuchin monkey. Don't have much money. Very good home. Willing to come and get it. Looking for a best friend.


My family had a little squirrel monkey named Jeepers when I was a child. I'm 46 now and looking for another little friend of my own. Although I've been a teacher for seventeen years, I used to be a certified MIG/TIG welder, and I'm currently constructing a 3' X 5' X 6' monkey habitat. It will be quite luxurious -- a primate Hilton.

Disillusionment -- behavior issues, bites, and vet bills

Pet monkey owners are eager to handle monkeys. While most facilities caring for primates have animals living in groups, and are required by law to provide environmental enrichment, the law does not apply to pet monkey owners. Some primate bulletin boards recommend housing monkeys in boring environments so that they will accept human company.

As they grow older, monkeys tend to become independent and aggressive. Some owners remove all or some of their monkey's teeth in the hope of minimizing the injuries caused by bites, or desex their pet primates in a futile attempt to modify their temperament. Another difficulty often unforeseen by monkey owners is finding reasonable health care for their "pets." Very few veterinarians will treat pet monkeys. On many monkey lists there are complaints about the prices charged by vets and the distance people must travel to locate a veterinarian willing and able to treat primates.

I think my big mistake was I didn't know what kind of monkey did I want. A PET or something to look at like fish. [On] all the web sites I read about a monkey being a pet. You wanted his cage to be small and very uninteresting, so that he would want to get out of his cage so you can teach him to be held. Well, my monkey wants to stay in his cage all day and night now. I put too many things inside the cage for him. A mistake I will have to learn from.


By the way it's very seldom that a monk does not turn to aggressive behavior after reaching maturity. They bite a lot when babies because they are scared, but bite hard, deep and often attack on a whim when older! Especially if you are making them do something they don't want. Which is the reason many monks are so often sold again around four years when most monks mature. Yes, I still miss the end of my finger...severe nerve damage left it completely numb, and that was just a deep gash from a squirrel monk. Li'l stinker!!! Which I couldn't get the surgery I needed to repair it, because the doctor has to report it, and often the monk is confiscated for biting and put to death to check for rabies, especially since it was not my monk. Know what you are getting into before you buy!


I lucked out, my primate vet IS down the street, literally -- 1/4 mile, but he is SOOOO expensive. USDA vet check-up last year was $60; now it's over $250, and that is just to look around, play with the animal, and sign a piece of paper. Does not even include any type of checkup on any animals.

Getting rid of pet monkeys

People working at traditional dog and cat SPCAs are frustrated by people who "dump" their family pets when they move or when the animal becomes an inconvenience, often due to behavioral problems.

The same is the case with monkeys. Usually "owners" get rid of monkeys when they are 4 to 8 years old. This is a major problem for pet monkeys. The few existing sanctuaries are crowded, yet they are offered more and more monkeys. Very few former owners who have bought baby primates provide donations for lifetime care of their once cherished pet, after they have ruined the animals life for their selfish gratification.

Moving and unable to bring along our guenons. Would like a nice family to adopt our kids. Guenon Mona female is eight years old and as sweet as can be. Guenon Vervet male has an attitude but tends to listen mostly to Adult Males. He is also eight years old.


We have a Male Common Marmoset. His name is Gizmo. We have had him for six months now. He has been to the vet once since we have had him. The vet said he was a healthy 3 year old. We are sad to see him go but the wife wants the room so she can start breeding sugar gliders. We are asking $2,200 dollars US.


I have 4 monkeys for sale. These kids have been a part of my family for years, and new job does not allow me to give them the time they need. You will not be able to handle any of these kids. They have all bitten and will bite again if given the chance.


We have a female bonnet for sale. She is very sweet, but does not want you to hold her. She is 5 years old. Also she might be bred, we got her in with the male. Asking $3,000.00.


I have a male spider monkey for sale. He is 6 years old and tame, but does not like to be held. He can wear diapers, and he is not neutered. Would do great with other monkeys.


I am USDA [US Department of Agriculture licensed] and live in Texas and I have a black and white female capuchin for sale. She is 8 months and I need to sell her quick. Money problems force me to sell her. I will bring it to you most of the time -- it depends where you live. But need to be paid because I am not flying somewhere and find you are pulling my chain or don't have the money. Have done that once and once is enough. I am only asking $4,000.

Taking responsibility for a living primate is a commitment that can last for decades, not something to be done lightly. Pet monkey "owners" would be doing more for the primates they profess to love if they spent their money and energies on protecting primate species in the wild -- where they belong.


" NEVER buy monkeys or any other wild animals as pets.
" ENCOURAGE your friends not to buy monkeys or any wild pets.
" DO NOT give positive reinforcement to owners of pet monkeys.
" REPORT any mistreatment to your local SPCA.
" IF YOU SEE A MONKEY FOR SALE IN A PET SHOP, write down the 0 name of the shop and address and let IPPL know.



Click here to go to IPPL's article and call for letters regarding endangered primates as victims of the pet trade

Click here to read about the plight of monkeys/apes kept as "pets"

Click here for more information about monkeys/apes kept as "pets"

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