If you are like many, you think a monkey/chimp would be the perfect pet. They're just like little babies and they can do much more than a dog or cat. Look on tons of bulletin boards and you see people with ads wanting an inexpensive (or free) monkey.
Well, let us see if we can talk some sense into you. See, monkeys and chimps are not good pets. Let's start with chimps.
Chimps are really cute. No denying that. They are smart and share 98.5% of the human genes. Baby chimps are also expensive. Plan on up to $50,000 for a baby. (Older ones are at least $10,000 and sometimes much more.) They are very much like human children and require full time care. You will carry the baby chimp around with you pretty much all the time. If you are lucky, you will have full time help so you can get a little breathing room. You can't hire a typical baby sitter like you would for children. No more weekends at a bed and breakfast and vacations are hard to work in unless you have a chimp nanny!
Chimps also throw temper tantrums - just like regular children. The only problem is that chimps can be seven times stronger than a grown man. They bite and can cause serious injury. Did I mention that the males enter adolescence around or before they are five years old? They can live 25-35 years. You will need a huge cage (think room or small house size) or a climate-controlled habitat. It's not uncommon for the cages/environments to cost up to tens of thousands of dollars.
Lets not forget medical care. A lot of people take their chimps to human doctors but your insurance won't pay for them. That means a single doctor visit can easily run you $500 and the chimp goes a couple of times a year. Food and medicine will be at least a couple hundred dollars per month. And, of course, those Baby Gap clothes are really cute, but oh, so expensive!
Not rich enough for a chimp? How about a monkey?
The short answer is 'no'. Let's address those 'cheap' or 'free' monkeys first. If someone is selling a monkey cheap you can bet that this is an older monkey and certain to have behavioral problems. These monkeys are often passed around from owner to owner and can be very aggressive. One monkey we know has killed various animals - including other monkeys. If you want a pet, don't even think about buying an older monkey.
Monkeys can live 15 - 30 years; depending upon the breed. They mature at different rates depending on the breed, but you can play with them as cute, controllable little babies only up they are 7-9 months old. After that they may be sweet and gentle for a few years. Capuchins may enter puberty around 5-6 years old. De Brazza's may mature a bit later and others enter puberty a little earlier. After puberty most primates will become more aggressive. This is especially true for male primates.
Monkeys are easier to care for than Chimps, but it is still hard. They require special cages and require constant intellectual stimulation to remain healthy. In almost all cases, you can't let the monkey roam free in the house. They will tear the house apart or hurt themselves. Picture a monkey putting their hand on a hot stove or biting an electrical cord.
Most monkeys do not throw feces, but you will need a diaper on them if you plan on keeping them in your home. You will need to change the diaper throughout the day and watch for diaper rash. It isn't hard to nappy train them if you start when they are babies, but some monkeys just don't want to wear them. Monkeys are really fast (and work in three dimensions), so good luck chasing them down if they don't want to wear their diaper.
If you already own a monk and truly care about your monkey, you will be sure that he/she gets top flight care from a veterinarian. It isn't fair to the animal if they aren't getting the same care that a person gets. It can be expensive - thousands of dollars in some cases. A well-nourished, proper diet is paramount to their good health as well. Just as junk food isn't good for a human, it isn't good for a monk either!
Monkeys may not do well with strangers, so finding a trained, reliable baby-sitter. Plus, not every "sitter" wants to change a monk nappy! Unless you have a trained person that is known by the monk, the best you can usually do while is to leave them in their cage while someone else gives them food and water. Most people with monkeys give up going out or going on vacation. It isn't impossible - it's just hard.
Monkeys are social animals. They either need another monkey or they need you as their constant friend. Monkeys that don't have this become isolated and often become mildly neurotic. Think about the kid who gets left out of everything at school and becomes a psychopath and you are beginning to understand what happens to a monkey who doesn't get enough attention.
Contrary to urban legend, monkeys are not responsible for disease. Unfortunately, they are very susceptible to human disease. Monkeys raised in captivity do not have the same immune systems. We have had monkeys die from diseases they picked up from children or others. Colds, viruses and the flu bug are all very dangerous to your monk.
Some primates require special licenses and FDA inspections. You can be fined in some cases if you have not followed the proper channels in purchasing your monk. Worse, some localities can seize your baby. Remember the Diana monk in NY that a couple had raised as part of their family and it was seized in not the too distant past? What a heartbreak! That means that you might not be able to move to a certain area because you own a primate.
Bottom line: chimps and monkeys are not good pets. We love all of our babies that we raise. We only wish the best of homes for them. We know more about primates than most people since we have had the opportunity to raise the babies for a number of years. But we would never consider owning a chimp as a pet even for a day and we don't keep baby monkeys longer than six or seven months (and that's a stretch for them being inside our home!) More often than not, a person with a monkey ends up being miserable, the monkey is miserable, and worse, the monkey doesn't get the care it deserves.