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Saying Goobye to Andy
By Angelle Monique Sampey
Hey gang, I have a story to tell you. When I was a little girl, about 4 years old, my mom and dad brought me to a zoo that had monkeys that you could hold and take pictures with. I took a picture with this cute little infant monkey that let me hold him like a baby, and from that day forward, I was determined to have a monkey of my own. I begged my parents for the rest of my days in their home to let me get a monkey and of course they said ďNOĒ every time I asked. Boy oh boy, I should have listened to them.
Seven years ago, I had been racing for four years and wasnít planning on quitting anytime soon, but I wanted something really, really bad! I wanted to be a mommy. Well, motherhood definitely was NOT in the plans at the moment, so I did what I thought was the next best thing. I got myself a monkey. The cute little baby monkey that I had been wanting since I was 4 years old. He is a Black Capped Capuchin named Andy, and I got him from a breeder in Indiana when he was only six weeks old. I paid $5500 for him. Expensive, huh? Well guess what? That was the cheapest part! I had no idea what this monkey was eventually going to cost me.
Andy was the cutest thing I had ever seen. He was just like a baby. Wore diapers and drank from a baby bottle and even slept in my arms. I was finally a mommy. Well that didnít last very long at all. In no time, he wouldnít sit still, hated his cage, and was smart enough to break out of anything I put him in. He became extremely destructive, would not wear a diaper, became a very picky eater ,and, worst of all, aggressive! He bites! Hard!
I moved into my new home when Andy was about 3 years old. I had a special room built just for him. It is on the back side and center of my house. It is sunken in six inches with cement floors and a drain in the middle so that I can wash the whole thing down because he is VERY MESSY!!! It takes over an hour to clean his room and has to be done several times a week. Not to mention the circus act that takes at least two people to occupy him while getting the room cleaned. There are bars on the windows looking into my home so that he can see inside and bars on two of the windows looking outside. A third window to the outside is open to an outdoor cage. He has access to the both indoors and outdoors. Sounds like he has it made, doesnít it? Well I thought so too. That room cost me a fortune. TWICE.
You see, monkeys are very smart. He can unlock windows and would open them all of the time, which is fine with the bars but not fine for my electric bill. So I rigged them shut. Well, he figured that out and broke the windows completely. So I had to get a screened-in patio that cost me 11 grand so that the mosquitoes would not infest his room and my house. The electric bill stays at a ridiculous rate.
He managed to pick at the walls enough until he could get his hands into it and then eventually tore giant holes around his room. He pulled out all of the insulation and the wiring. I had to contain him for a week while construction workers came in to rebuild the walls with a cement board, which, fortunately, he hasnít been able to destroy yet. That cost me about four toes on my left foot. Just kidding, but it was about three more Gs.
Okay, so as I was learning the hard way how to contain Andy without him destroying my house, I thought we were finally getting somewhere. But then he started to become even more aggressive and demanding. My friends would come over and get too close to his outdoor cage, and before you know it, their cell phones were taken, or their sunglasses or earrings or necklaces. You name it ... if Andy could reach it, it was going to be his. I would have to go into his room to retrieve whatever he stole, but by the time I could get it back, if at all, it was destroyed beyond repair. Not to mention that I have scars all over my body from being attacked by him for trying to take what he had stolen away from him.
Andy is 7 years old now. He is still one of the cutest things I have ever seen, and he never ceases to amaze me with his intelligence and human similarities, but I have learned a great lesson over the last seven years. Andy is a primate. He is a wild animal. He is NOT and NEVER will be domesticated. He was born to be wild and was never meant to be a pet or a replacement for my child. He has spent seven years of his expected 45-year lifespan in captivity and all alone. Capuchin monkeys instinctively travel in packs. Andy now struggles with boredom and excessive loneliness. He constantly bangs on the bars for attention and destroys his toys or anything he can get to. He went through a stage where he was pulling out his hair on his tail. I can now only clean his room about twice a week because it is just too dangerous to handle him more than that. The fewer cleanings have put him in a horrible living situation, not to mention what it is doing to my home. I have to slide his food under the door because he is very possessive of it and will sometimes attack if he thinks I am going to take it away from him. The bites hurt really badly, and he has cut me open on several occasions, but the real pain is in my heart. I love him so much, and it hurts so badly when he is mean to me. I have to constantly remind myself that itís not personal. It is his instinct.
After seven years, I now know that I cannot give Andy the home that he needs and deserves. While searching the Internet, I found a primate sanctuary called Jungle Friends in Gainesville, Fla. It is located only 10 minutes from the racetrack that hosts the Gatornationals. I visited Jungle Friends during the rainout this year. I met Kari Bagnall, who runs the place. She is a wonderful woman who has given her life to saving monkeys like Andy, as well as monkeys who werenít as lucky as Andy has been. She has more than 100 monkeys there at her sanctuary. Unfortunately, there wasnít enough room for anymore monkeys because they just can not afford to build anymore enclosures right now. Jungle Friends works with donation money alone and volunteer helpers, so I had to pay $5,000 to buy the supplies to have an enclosure built for Andy.
The time has come. His enclosure is nearly complete. I will be making the trip this week to bring Andy to his new home. I have cried a river over this. I am crying my eyes out right now as I type this. What have I done?!!! What was I thinking?!! Please donít ever make the same mistake I have. If you or anyone you know thinks they want a monkey, PLEASE DONíT DO IT! Donít do it to them, and donít do it to yourselves. Like Kari says, monkeys belong in our hearts, not in hour homes!!
I have to give up my baby of seven years so that he can live a better life. He is human-imprinted now and could not survive in the wild, so he will have to remain in captivity, but at least this captivity will be with other monkeys and in a much better place than I could ever provide for him. I want to say thank you with all of my heart to my mom and my Aunt Faye. If it were not for the two of them, I could never have had Andy for as long as I did. They were there every step of the way to help me with him. It takes at least three people to care for one monkey. Thank you mom and Aunt Faye, and I am so sorry that I did this to you guys. I know it is hurting you as badly as it is hurting me to let him go.
I am going to turn Andyís room into a play room for my little girl. I want to paint monkeys on the wall to always remind me of Andy and my experience with him. I will surely be a great story to tell my daughter. I am going to miss him so much!
I would like to ask a favor of you. If at all possible, please visit the Jungle Friends Web site at www.junglefriends.org and make a donation and/or sponsor Andy or any of the monkeys there. If you do, please tell íem itís from Angelle and Andyís friends.
Thank you so much for reading my story!
God Bless you guys.
Reprinted from JungleFriends http://www.junglefriends.org/
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