Primate Ownership

PetWatch discourages owning primates as pets

  • Pet primate attacks have led to many serious and near fatal injuries to human owners, members of the community and household pets.
  • When primates reach maturity, they often become aggressive and difficult to control. Primates are exceptionally strong and often unpredictable. Chimpanzees, for example, can grow to over 200 pounds in captivity and can be seven times stronger than an adult human.
  • Social interactions with other primates are essential for primate development. Aggressive behavior is a natural way for primates to establish a social hierarchy in the wild. Captive primates often view their human caretakers as members of their social group. This puts humans at risk of injury when pet primates try to establish a dominant role.
  • Primates are wild animals that cannot be reliably trained. Removing a pet primate’s teeth and nails is inhumane and does not prevent aggressive or dangerous behavior.
  • In March 2009, The U.S. House of Representatives proposed a ban on primate trade in the United States. Similar legislation exists in the UK, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.
  • 40% of the world’s 234 primate species are threatened with extinction. Owning a pet primate does not help wild primate conservation efforts. Primate ownership may put wild populations at risk through increased demand in the pet trade.
  • Primates may carry harmful infectious diseases that can spread to humans including: TB, Herpes-B, Simian Immunodeficiency Virus, Ebola and Marburg viruses and Yellow fever.


Sources: Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition; Animal Protection Institute; The Jane Goodall Institute;   Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species; IUCN Red List of Threatened Species; International Fund for Animal Welfare; Soulsbury et al. 2009. J.  Applied Animal Welfare Science 12:1-20; Wolfe et al. 1998. Emerging Infectious Diseases 4:149-158; Living together: my monkey myself NY Times article 2/28/2009.


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