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.
Where do capuchin monkeys live in the wild?
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.
What do capuchin monkeys eat?
In the wild these small monkeys eat a varied diet of fruit, leaves, nectar, nuts, buds, bugs, eggs, frogs, lizards, birds and more. Some may even eat shellfish.
Capuchin monkeys as pets
Capuchins, like other primates, don’t make good pets. In a home environment they become unhappy and can become aggressive.
They need the company of other capuchins and lots of space for exercise. These needs simply cannot be met in a home environment.
When kept as pets capuchins will often suffer from life-threatening and expensive health problems as they need a specialist diet to meet all of their nutritional needs.
Joey’s story is a typical example of life for a capuchin kept as a pet.
Taken from the wild and kept as a pet
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.
Having had little exercise, a poor diet, living in cramped conditions and not enough sunlight, Joey had developed severe nutritional bone disease which in turn led to many irreversible disabilities.
The future for Joey looked bleak – but his zest for life has shone through demonstrating he truly is 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.
Capuchins and the law
Despite government advice that permits should not be issued for the pet trade, Joey was brought into the country under a licence for “personal use”.
Being a species that needs a licence under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, Camden Council issued a licence to Joey’s owner, apparently without the appropriate checks. The licence should have been renewed on an annual basis alongside having a vet inspection, however this was never done after the first year.
The laws that should have been there to protect Joey failed him.
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