Pet Parent Peril: Spider Monkeys may be Sweet, but that Doesn’t Mean You Should Take One Home

They may be adorable, but they aren’t pet perfect!

Spider monkey’s are true marvels of the animal world. With their human-like features and friendly demeanor it is no wonder that celebrities like Hugh Hefner and Paris Hilton like to keep them as playful pets. Monkeys have been living among men for centuries. From Tarzan’s Cheetah, to the late Michael Jackson’s chimp, Bubbles, to Indiana Jones’ cheeky companion, the human entertainment industry has always had a soft spot for primates. And while it may all seem like all is fair and happy in the world of monkey business, the fact remains that monkeys are living, feeling beings, not toys and they must be treated as such.

Unfortunately, with mankind encroaching on their natural habitat, Spider Monkeys are finding themselves in a compromising position. With the forests that they call home being cut down at lightning speed, they are becoming more exposed, and therefore more easily captured. Adult Spider Monkeys are murdered so their orphans may be taken and sold as pets to unthinking people in search of a taste of the exotic.

In addition these violent and cruel practices, even passive human action has a huge effect on the spider monkey population. In developing areas within their habitats, many spider monkeys have become tangled or electrocuted when attempting to swing across power lines as they cross over into human spaces in search of increasingly scarce sources of food.

The Spider Monkey’s Habitat is Shrinking

In fact, Spider monkeys are almost completely extinct from their home in the Nicoya Peninsula now, with an estimated 250 monkeys left total. It was only 65 short years ago that they were thriving, and living freely among the jungles, and native people.

Finally responding to the devastation that humanity has wrought upon their spider monkey population, Costa Rica has established the Curu Wildlife Reserve to help rebuild the species population, and thus far they have met with great success. However, the battle will truly be one with education. Until humans can understand that keeping a non-domesticated animal is never a viable option, spider monkeys and their naturally amiable personalities will continue to be taken advantage of and kept in unnatural, stressful, and potentially fatal conditions.

Many people around the world like the notion of keeping a primate as a pet, but the reality is that monkeys are a fragile family of beings. They are very specific to their environments; each breeding in small, isolated clusters that impact the world around them. To remove them from this, limit their reproduction, and market them as pets has severely placed the collective order of primates out of balance.

One look into the soulful eyes of a living, breathing little spider monkey will bring out the parent in you. And as any parent knows, caring for and protecting the defenseless is what caretaking is all about. We need to work together to keep the natural order of things in perspective.

To find out more about how you can help the Spider monkeys of Costa Rica, click to visit the Curu Wildlife Reserve’s website today!

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