The Real Reason You Shouldn't Keep Monkeys As Pets

You know what nobody ever says? "Out of all the characters on Friends, I want to be more like Ross." And yet every year, thousands of people around the world go out of their way to purchase or maintain a pet monkey. In the United Kingdom alone, it's estimated that 4,500 primates are privately owned. National Geographic ballparks a 15,000 monkey figure in the United States.

The reasons for keeping a pet monkey seem myriad and well-documented: monkey ownership saved Indiana Jones from poisoned date ingestion, it gave the audience something fun to pay attention to before Genie showed up in Aladdin, and it's what made the first act of so many Planet of the Apes movies an absolute romp. In reality, though, owning a small primate in any form, be it a capuchin, marmoset, or human infant, is expensive, demanding, and hazardous to your health. Let's take a look at why that is.

You'll never know if it's actually just Andy Serkis in disguise

The problems are numerous. Pet primates don't benefit from thousands of years of selective breeding that we've drilled into dogs and cats, sculpting them into parodies of nature that love tummy scratches. They're wild animals. Despite the more magical world that we've been taught to believe in by movies and children's books, wild animals don't generally love the domesticated life.

Sure, monkeys look cute when they're babies, but like some pit bulls and most Culkins, they become monsters once sexual maturity hits. Aggression can come in many forms, with Spruce Pets listing biting and impassioned amounts of urination as common problems.

Are they expensive to feed? You bet! The Guardian reports on a case in the UK in which a well-meaning monkey owner fed his marmoset "entirely on porridge, baby food and fish fingers." The story ends with the monkey dying during surgery after his body was discovered to be "riddled with metabolic bone disease caused by poor nutrition."

Which brings up another important point. Monkeys are exotic creatures, and finding proper medical care for them can be next to impossible, and even harder if you live in an area where they're illegal to own, which you just might.

In short, get a dog. Or, if you feel a real need to own a weird and interesting pet, get a tiger. At least there'll be a Netflix deal in it for you once everything goes wrong.