I moved from New York with my parents. There were many things that took some getting used to and that I was not a fan of the warmth or bugs. Whoever invented air conditioning has my eternal gratitude! Then there were things that helped me tolerate any downsides. The casual lifestyle and dress, the beaches and the fishing to name a few. One of the things I really loved about Florida was that it lacked many of the rules and restrictions that East Coasters were and are still cursed with now. Even in the early 1970s you couldn’t walk into a NYC or Long Island pet shop and purchase a monkey. However, you can do this in Florida.
Before the government decided that they would make all the decisions for us, there was a time you could decide many things on your own. That included what sort of pet you may want to purchase or adopt. Sadly, there were some people who spoiled that for honest, sincere and thoughtful pet owners… People who left their dogs perpetually tied to a tree, kept an alligator in the pool, had a tiger in their flat or used their home as an animal rescue center keeping countless poorly fed cats in an entirely unacceptable environment… Now I am not saying that there should be no laws against keeping certain types of wild or exotic animals as pets. What I want to point out is if the government is forbidding people from owning animals since they’re endangered or in the opinion of some”expert” might be psychologically damaged by living with people… Then they’re barking up the wrong tree.
As a fourteen year old boy I walked right into New York Animal Removal and saw a squirrel monkey languishing in a little cage. This was not a case of neglect or abuse. This type of thing is often done by pet stores as a hook for you to purchase one of their more pricey or hard to sell selections. So said my dad and he was correct. At $25 it didn’t cost a fortune and that price meant the store wanted it gone. It was a time when few tourists were in town which made it more difficult to sell. Most locals were older and didn’t need the hassle of maintaining a Primate as a pet. Besides, the monkey was not very good at self promotion. It had barely been weaned when someone took it out of its mother, gave it some shots and sold it to the pet shop for resale. As a result the animal was shy, skiddish and fearful.
I went to the local library and did a little research on squirrel monkeys before I finally bought him two weeks after my initial trip to the pet shop. My parents were good with my purchase because I’d always been a responsible pet owner having had a dog, birds and guinea pigs. The dog died before we proceeded. The other pets were adopted to neighbors who knew and liked them because it was just not feasible to bring them along. I named my fighter Sam and brought him home to a huge cage which we kept at a Florida Room with jalousied windows on the side of the property. It faced an unused lot that was overgrown and looked like a jungle. That area could be cut off from A/C if needed, but was heated for the short time period that our region experienced any chilly weather.
However, they require a whole lot of companionship and mental stimulation. He tried to bite me first so I pinched him a few times until he learned not to be so aggressive. This was only possible because I got him young. The idea was to use conditioning and repetitive discipline as tools to have the animal behave. I had been the head of this primate group, not him. I was the provider of food, shelter and water. After he figured all this out he discovered quicker. Initially I used a leash. After a few months it wasn’t required. He was allowed to roam freely under our supervision and even played outside while we’d barbeques or proceeded in our pool. He used the vacant lot next shop as an exercise yard climbing the trees and chasing squirrels and birds.
You can not really have either without stressing out one or both pets. In reality Monkeys are jealous. I strongly suggest that if you plan on having a monkey of this kind you avoid having other pets. Most Monkeys that aren’t well trained or kindly treated will probably get mean or moody as they transition into adulthood. They may also attack you or destroy things they see are important to you if given the chance.
As a guideline Monkeys are smart. They learn quickly and are great escape artists. That’s why training is important. I left Sam’s cage door open once he had been trained. I did close the doors to that area. He learned to shut or open his cage door as it suited him. After a while he learned how to open and close all the doors that lead to the backyard so he can go outside to play or do his business. But he would never go unless one of us gave him our consent. Doors to his chamber were padlocked when we moved out without him.
Owning a squirrel monkey is easy and hard… satisfying and frustrating… annoying and fun… but it’s ethical? You’ll have to decide for yourself unless your city or state has already done that for you. The truth is that people will own monkeys regardless. In China it is illegal, but thousands of Chinese own”Pocket Monkees” which are usually purchased as infant Pygmy Mamosets, Capuchins or Resus Monkeys. They do not treat them well. They tie their arms so they will learn to practice walking on twos rather than fours that’s painful and unnatural for them. They shave off their fur and dress them in clothes. You understand. These animals are status symbols in China where many governments look the other way and ignore the wealthy and important people who own them. However, if they or responsible pet owners didn’t purchase the monkeys they’d be sold to research labs and condemned to a life spent being subjected to physically or emotionally damaging experiments while living in a very small cage devoid of love or companionship.
Each year tens of thousands of monkeys have been sent to research facilities worldwide and several orders for more from the same torture facilities remain unfilled. Given that fact it’s tough to be concerned about the morality of having a monkey for a pet compared to the same animal ending up as a laboratory rat. Most people I know who’ve owned a fighter didn’t mistreat it, or shave it, or beat or keep it in an improper environment. Once more, if you’ve got the lawful right to have one, you need to decide if it is something you need to do or not. Before you do anything, do lots of research and buy from a reputable breeder if you decide a fighter is the right pet for you. No additional $25 prices. You will spend $3000-$6000 depending on the kind of monkey you select. Most people prefer the Capuchins for their ability to learn tricks and behaviours. If tiny is your plan Pygmy Marmosets are finger sized as infants and hand sized as adults. Squirrel and Spider Monkeys require more time and effort than most folks care to invest in a pet.