Proper primate care is literally beyond most people, and even if the cruelty is unintentional, it is nonetheless despicable that any intelligent creature should be treated this way in modern society.
We have all read science fiction tales in which we were horrified to find that extraterrestrial aliens regarded humans as mere food animals or at best pets – TV series V a classic example – and will have been horrified at the thought, yet we humans are happy to cage our nearest relatives, whose DNA is only 2% different to our own.
The RSPCA has rightly called for the banning of the keeping of primates as household pets, horribly highlighted by the Stourbridge couple who so badly treated a 4-month old monkey that it had to be put down. Guilty of causing the animal unnecessary suffering, the pair denied knowing there was anything wrong with the four-month-old monkey, sold for £650 through a newspaper advert, despite Mikey having not only advanced bone disease and seven fractures., but also a fractured tail, used for balance in everyday life.
Primates, like us humans are mostly social animals who need the company of others of their kind to live well-balanced lives, as well as having a great need to bask in sunshine, in order not to get rickets and other diseases. Many owners, however, keep their solitary animals in cages that are too small, with not enough access to the sun and improper nutrition.
Humans detest solitary confinement, and are quick to complain if not being properly fed, so why do we ignore the basic fact of most primates needing complex social interactions with their peers to enjoy happy lives? Primates use facial expressions, gestures and postures to communicate, needing their own kind around them, yet we are cruel enough to disregard this, in order to have a special pet.
Some owners actually think that when their pet primate appears to smile like a human, this shows them to be happy, but in truth primates only bare their teeth to show fear or aggression, as they have no knowledge of what a smile is.
The RSPCA believes that in the UK, between 2,500 and 7,500 primates are kept as pets in homes, though that could well be a conservative estimate, and in the past decade they have dealt with 315 incidents relating to pet primates, involving 645 animals.
Primates cannot be domesticated – too intelligent – but because they often have human-like faces and show both emotions and a lot of human-like behaviour, people are drawn to keep them as pets, but proper primate care is literally beyond most people, and even if the cruelty is unintentional, it is nonetheless despicable that any intelligent creature should be treated this way in modern society.
Never forget that the brain development in many of these animals is almost as advanced as our own, and that mistreatment – however inflicted – can lead to their developing psychological problems which can never be reversed, some pet primates having, because of their brains, the capacity to suffer so much more than other animals.
Just reflect upon how you might feel if indeed the roles were reversed, and the intelligent human, unable to communicate with his keepers for whatever reason, felt a growing frustration at being horribly mistreated, yet could do nothing to prevent or stop it, other than committing suicide. Put yourself in the shoes of those unfortunate monkeys, then ask yourself how fair it is that humans treat their nearest cousins so badly.
Published in: Pets