They’ve been described as moronic celebrities – celebrities such as Justin Bieber who unthinkingly wanted to keep an exotic pet and acquired a monkey. They are obviously far better left in the wild but many end up a celebrity pets. Rhianna, to name another celebrity, has fallen for their charms and they are apparently for sale at £400 in the UK. This is cheap.
A professor of evolutionary biology at the University of East Anglia, Ben Garrod, has described the celebrities who want to keep pet monkeys as ‘morons’. He is specifically referring to singers such as Justin Bieber and Rhianna who have been photographed with pet monkeys.
Garrod has estimated in his book The Chimpanzee and Me that there are 4,500 privately owned primates in the UK. Many of them were adopted because, according to Mr Garrod, they had a misguided desire to own a cool, exotic pet.
There are no regulations to keep primates as pets in the UK. It is apparently legal to keep them as pets in Britain and it does not matter whether the animal is endangered or dangerous to other animals or humans.
Under UK law owners of monkeys must prevent them suffering unnecessarily and they must take all reasonable steps to meet the monkey’s needs.
There is no register of ownership of many species of primate including tamarins, squirrel monkeys and marmosets. If you wish to have a lemur or capuchin monkey as a pet then you have to make an application to the local authority under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act.
It is estimated that in 2014 there were 5,000 primates kept as pets in the UK under a Born Free Foundation report. The RSPCA receives one call a week with respect to the welfare of pet monkeys.
Primates are highly unsuitable as companion animals. They should not be pets. They’ve been domesticated for about two generations whereas the cat has been domesticated for 10,000 years and the dog for about 30,000 years.
Garrod said that primates make terrible pets and they can spray urine just like cats. In his book he outlines the terrible conditions under which some pet primates are kept. They’re sometimes subject to mental health problems because of the nature of their captivity. Often these animals are kept under poor physical conditions resulting in diseases such as metabolic bone disease caused by providing the wrong food in the wrong housing.
“Justin Bieber, the guy’s a moron. Absolute super-moron. He got a pet monkey that he took from America to Germany and was like, ‘Oh look, I got my own pet monkey’. No, you can’t do that. He got it confiscated and he said, ‘I’ll just buy another one’. When you see celebrities like Rhianna and Justin Bieber and a few others with pet monkeys, that is really bad and we should tell people it’s bad.”Professor Garrod
A person living in Cardiff, UK has a different point of view. They live with a three-year-old squirrel monkey and dismiss the criticism. The person has no problem with anyone owning a monkey as long as they give that animal the time and space they need. They live longer in captivity than in the wild. The person does agree that taking animals from the wild and making them pets is entirely wrong. However breeding them from captivity as pets is fine they said.
With respect, I totally disagree. I take the PETA purist line. Animals are not for our entertainment. And these irresponsible celebrities are promoting monkeys as pets which can lead to animal abuse due to lack of knowledge and damage to conservation efforts.
My thanks to The Times newspaper (hard copy).