Keeping capuchin monkeys as pets

Capuchins live in trees in the forests of South and Central America. They are highly social animals and in the wild usually live in large groups of 10 to 20 animals. In the wild, these small monkeys eat a varied diet of fruit, leaves, nectar, nuts, buds, bugs, eggs, frogs, lizards, birds, and even shellfish.

Capuchin monkeys are one of the more common primates in the pet trade. The black-capped, or tufted, capuchin appears to be the most common species kept.

capuchin at monkey world © RSPCA

Keeping capuchin monkeys as pets

Capuchins, like other primates, don't make good pets. They're unhappy in a home environment and can become aggressive. They need the company of other capuchins and lots of space for exercise, which they simply can't get in a home environment.

When kept as pets, capuchins often suffer from life-threatening and expensive health problems, as they need a specialist diet.

Taken from the wild: Joey's story

Joey is a capuchin who was taken from the wild in South America at just three months old and traded as a pet.

He was kept in a wardrobe-sized cage in a flat in Camden, London, for nine years before being rescued by Wild Futures.

Joey received little exercise, a poor diet and lived in cramped conditions with not enough sunlight. He developed rickets (nutritional bone disease) which led to many irreversible disabilities.

The future for Joey looked bleak - but his zest for life has shone through, demonstrating he is truly a resilient and inspiring little character.

Joey was one of the lucky ones and now lives at Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary in Looe, Cornwall - but there are so many others out there who aren't so lucky.

Capuchin monkeys and the law

Despite government advice that permits shouldn't be issued for the pet trade, Joey was brought into the country under a licence for 'personal use'.

Capuchin monkeys are a species that require a licence under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. Licences have to be renewed annually, alongside a vet inspection. It appears that Camden Council issued a licence to Joey's owner, without the appropriate checks. Nor was the renewal process carried out after the first year.

The laws that should have been there to protect Joey failed him.

We're campaigning to end the keeping of primates as pets. Join us today and help us to ensure that a house is never a primate's home by signing our petition.

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