Chimpanzees Don't Make Good Pets

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Chimpanzees Don't Make Good Pets

From The Jane Goodall Institute

WANT TO RAISE A CHIMP? THINK AGAIN.

Chimpanzees are meant to live in the wild, not in our homes. Those that have been taken from the forest and their mothers belong in a sanctuary or a high quality zoo. Like human children, ape children learn in a social context, by watching and imitating adults. Chimps that grow up apart from a normal group fail to learn the nuances of chimp etiquette, and are likely to behave abnormally. As adults, chimpanzees have at least five times the strength of humans Ė too much for any pet owner to manage! Zoos usually refuse to accept pets because they tend not to fit into established groups. Historically, many pet chimps ended up in medical research laboratories. Today they are likely to end up in a roadside zoo.

Chimpanzee and monkey infants are irresistibly cute, and it might seem that raising one would be just like raising a human child. As infants, chimpanzees are affectionate, needy, and a delight to interact with. But chimpanzees grow up fast, and their unique intelligence makes it difficult to keep them stimulated and satisfied in a human environment. By age five they are stronger than most human adults. They become destructive and resentful of discipline. They can, and will, bite. Chimpanzee owners have lost fingers and suffered severe facial damage.

Reality Bites

How much time is really involved?

Owning a chimpanzee is an all-consuming task. Infants normally receive 24-hour attention from their mothers. Chimpanzee mothers will sleep with one hand on their child so contact is constant. Even people who are prepared to spend large amounts of time with their chimpanzees overlook the everyday demands of cleaning messes, preparing food, feeding them, and creating new games to stimulate them. Bear in mind, captive primates can live 50- 60 years.

Sharing Your Time & Space:

Chimpanzee owners often donít travel because they canít find suitable caretakers for their pets. Furthermore, chimpanzees are likely to rebel when owners come home late from work or have irregular schedules. If time is not an obstacle, space will be. Homes are not large enough to keep these active animals happy.

Cleaning Up:

While infant chimps can be diapered, once puberty hits most chimps resist diapers and clothing. Additionally, chimpanzees can make a mess that will daunt even the most practiced housekeeper. Imagine a toddler having the strength to move tables, pull down curtains and climb to anything put out of reach. It is impossible to train chimps to behave exactly like humans.

Health Concerns:

Nonhuman primates are used frequently in medical research because they are susceptible to many of the same diseases as humans such as herpes, viral hepatitis, and measles. These diseases can be transferred easily from them to us and vice versa. For in-depth information click here.

Dealing with Aggression:

Aggression is a natural aspect of chimpanzee behavior and it is not uncommon for chimps to bite each other in the wild. Even the best cared for chimpanzee innately misses the companionship of other chimpanzees and may act aggressively towards owners. However much a misguided chimp owner continues to love his or her "child," the chimpanzee will be too dangerous to keep as part of the family. Many owners, to delay the inevitable day that the chimp will have to be removed from the house, will pull the chimp's teeth, put on shock collars ó even remove thumbs in the mistaken notion that this will make it impossible for the chimp to climb the drapes.

Giving Them Up:

The day will come when despite all best efforts the chimpanzee must go. The owners often feel betrayed by the animals that they raised and devoted so much attention to. Sadly, they cannot be sent back to Africa. Most zoos will not take ex-pets because human-reared chimpanzees do not know chimp etiquette and tend not to fit into established groups. Tragically, many pet chimps end up in medical research laboratories. Because owners are asked not to visit the chimps ó so as not to disturb them in their "new-found happiness" ó the former chimp owners never realize the horrendous conditions to which they have condemned their friend.

Legality: Many states, counties, cities and towns have laws banning the ownership of non-human primates.

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