Tag Archives: “exotic animal trade”

Beyond The Brush: Who Is Pockets Warhol, The Painting Monkey?

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Beyond The Brush:  Who Is Pockets Warhol, The Painting Monkey?

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau (with contributions from Charmaine Quinn)

Last year I received an original painting by internationally acclaimed capuchin artist and philanthropist, Pockets Warhol, who is helping to raise awareness  for Story Book Farm Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ontario.  Story Book is currently running an urgent campaign to raise funds for a new location for 20 primates.  Charmaine Quinn is also famous for being a muse to Pockets’, who is the subject of this Q&A.   She works in Toronto and donates all her spare time to helping animals in need. Her weekends are spent at Story Book Farm as well as volunteering as an exhibit interpreter for the orangutans at the Toronto Zoo. Charmaine also volunteers at a therapeutic horse riding facility helping special needs children and adults.

Pockets 2Charmaine is the Board of Directors secretary for the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation led by Dr. Anne Russon (York University) and since 2006 has been spending two months a year at an Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Borneo helping orphaned and ex-captive orangutans in their Forest School System.  Charmaine has been honoured with the title of Canadian Orangutan Ambassador by Orangutan Appeal UK.  An extensive traveller,  Charmaine also manages to give her time to Wildtracks in Belize, where she provides care for spider monkeys, howler monkeys,  as well as manatees! When not volunteering, Charmaine is spending time with her rescued pets – two dogs and two cats, as well as playing classical flute, drawing and sculpting.  So here’s 10 questions for Charmaine about her work with Pockets….

(Heather) How did Pockets come to arrive at the sanctuary and how long has he been painting? What other types of enrichment does he enjoy?

(Charmaine) Pockets arrived about 5 years ago as a former pet in B.C. and he has been happily painting abstract pieces of art for the past 3 years. I noticed a similarity between Andy Warhol and Pockets so I attached the Warhol name which launched him into becoming a viral sensation when people saw his magnificent pieces of work. Pockets enjoys his painting sessions which would be similar to a child doing painting. It comes from a pure heart and pure mind. Pockets loves playing with his dinosaurs, stuffed toys and play ball. He definitely has a sense of wonder about him.

(Heather) Pockets took to painting fairly easily,  but this isn’t true of other monkeys you have at the sanctuary.  To what do you attribute Pockets’ interest in painting,  over some of the other primates?

(Charmaine) Pockets seemed to take to painting quite naturally as do some humans. Other primates in sanctuary settings also enjoy this as part of their enrichment. Pockets is a capuchin monkey Pockets 1and they are known for their high intelligence so it is no surprise to me that he is able to be very creative.

(Heather) Your relationship with Pockets seems especially close.  Would he paint as well if I handed him a canvas and paints?  Or does he prefer to work with you or some of the other caregivers?

(Charmaine) Pockets feels most comfortable with me during the painting process as we have formed a special friendship since he arrived and moreso after introducing him to the paints. Other caregivers have tried to paint with him, but they have not been very successful. He looks at our time together as fun and happy when he is painting as one can see in his work.

(Heather) You tried to interest another capuchin, Cheeko, in painting – how did that turn out?  I guess the phrase “monkey see, monkey do” doesn’t necessarily apply here….

(Charmaine) I have offered paints to other monkeys but they seem to have no interest and prefer to focus on other types of enrichment, like puzzles, toys, mirrors, etc.

(Heather) My Pockets painting has little bits of straw or wood chips in it. The little finger and hand prints are so adorable. Does Pockets like to incorporate any other “found objects” in his painting?

(Charmaine) Pockets uses his hands and feet to move around the paint and often little bits of straw are incorporated in these paintings as they are part of his enclosure which create an interesting look to the paintings. Sometimes he uses his tongue as a brush or takes other objects in his enclosure to push around the paint.

Charmaine and orang(Heather) How easily does Pockets clean up after a painting session?  It’s non-toxic children’s paint,  but how do you get him paint-free?

(Charmaine) I do use children’s paints as it has to be safe for him because he sometimes does put this in his mouth as a child would do. At the end of the sessions, I use baby shampoo and warm water to clean his hands, feet and tail and face. Pockets seems to understand this process of cleaning up after the painting is complete.

(Heather) Sometimes capuchins are used as service monkeys in other countries.  But they,  along with other species of monkeys don’t make good pets. Most of the primates at Story Book are very high energy and Pockets is quite the little busybody – what other attributes do they have that make them very difficult pets?

(Charmaine) Primates share many human traits and people often feel they would make good companions, but they are wild and unpredictable by nature as well as extremely strong. The cruel exotic animal trade is rampant and fueled by humans and this never ends well for the primate of choice unless they are fortunate enough to end up in a sanctuary setting.

(Heather) How has your life been impacted by Pockets specifically?  Aside from the fact that sometimes both your hairstyles resemble Andy Warhol…..

(Charmaine) Pockets has indirectly changed my life in the most positive manner and think he has brought much happiness to others as well with his artwork and his funny little character and I feel Pockets 3very flattered when people see that we share the same hairstyle!  He is very special to me because he loves to have fun and he has a sense of humor. Pockets keeps me motivated to help continue my volunteer work abroad with orangutans and monkeys and protect their environment for future generations.

(Heather) Has Pockets’ fame gone to his head?  How do you keep him grounded?

(Charmaine) Pockets is a little spoiled but he manages to keep himself grounded with a little help from me!

(Heather) Does Pockets have any upcoming exhibitions?

(Charmaine) I am hoping to continue more art shows and have been approached by Sadie’s Diner who were the original hosts of the first show. He has had a couple of art shows in Helsinki, one being at the Helsinki Museum, another at the Museo Apparente in Naples where he was part of an art show with other animals and many in Toronto. Pockets is listed as number 8 animal artist in the world and I am very proud of all his artwork which has created fundraising to help his primate friends at the sanctuary and has created many conversations about their intelligence and hopefully will make people think about protecting primates as they are very much like us in many ways, but are born to be wild.

 

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Darwin’s Dream – Passionate About Primate Protection

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darwintextWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Photography © Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary

DarwinsdreamStory Book Farm is one of only two primate sanctuaries in Canada that can care for nonhuman primates who are rejected by their owners or are cast-offs from the biomedical trade. A primate sanctuary is not a zoo. Sanctuaries are dedicated to giving nonhuman primates and other exotic animals a high quality of life via enrichment but without unnecessary human interference.

Founded in 2000, the Sanctuary is of course most famous for caring for Darwin the “IKEA monkey” for the last two years, after Toronto animal services seized him from his owner, Yasmin Nakhuda. Nakhuda later sued the sanctuary to get him back, but her lawsuit ultimately failed. For approximately two years, while awaiting the trial outcome, the Sanctuary and its volunteers and supporters were subjected to a campaign of regular harassment via social media.

Start the Car – The IKEA Monkey Trial Gets Ugly

The sanctuary hopes to raise $490,000 online through its Darwin’s Dream crowdfunding campaign to relocate the primates in its care to the site of the former Northwood Zoo in Seagrave, on the western side of Lake Scugog. Northwood, for sale for nearly $1,000,000, is set on 22 hectares with treed enclosures, buildings for volunteers to reside as well as the opportunity for a vet clinic. Included is an existing population of about 20 primates, including two younger macaques who could form a family troop with Darwin.

Please consider a donation for the purchase of the Northwood Zoo and the continuing care of the primates – support #Darwinsdream Indiegogo campaign

Darwin Funding Breakdown

In addition to Darwin, Pockets Warhol is another famous resident. The adorable capuchin monkey is something of an art sensation in the animal world, using children’s paints to create abstract splashes reminiscent of Jackson Pollock’s work.

High-profile stories of exotic or unusual pets either escaping or being set free by their owners are nothing new. And a high percentage of exotic animals die within the first year, assuming that they Story Book Farm 4survive their way to the consumer at all. Despite often having good intentions, many owners just don’t know how to provide quality care. There is a thriving exotic animal trade in Canada —involving everything from constrictors to tigers – the Tiger Paw “Odd and Unusual” auction currently held in Orangeville, features exotic farm animals, primates, and even zebras. Anyone willing to pay the price for these animals is free to take them away, no questions asked. Some of these animals will either die or be rejected by their new owners. Monkeys are less than ideal pets – monkeys that are cute in their infantile stages grow into highly intelligent wild adults who are physically strong and can be aggressive – they often outlive their owners as a result of having life spans that are longer than most traditional domesticated pets. Monkeys kept as private pets are usually forced to wear diapers for their entire lives, while the monkeys at Story Book live as naturalistically as possible

Story Book Volunteers and Board of Directors – a strong history of governance, animal welfare, volunteerism, and social justice.

There are only a patchwork of bylaws to deal with exotics ownership, since a cohesive exotic animal policy does not exist in Canada. Animal welfare groups and the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies call for stronger provincial laws to limit or ban the import and sale of exotic species, believing that a ban on those practices is the ideal legal scenario right across the country – the only exceptions being zoos and sanctuaries. Darwin’s case has served to highlight the fact that he is not just a meme,  an IKEA monkey, but a macaque capable of living to his fullest potential in a more natural environment.  We need to educate others and create awareness of illegal pets who need to live their lives as non-human primates. Bravo to Story Book Farm and their volunteers!

 

 

Show Me The Monkey!

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Sculpted by Hugo Rheinhold and first publicly exhibited in 1893 at the Great Berlin Art Exhibition, this sculpture both amuses and intrigues. As the monkey contemplates a human skull, he rests on a pile of books--one of which is by Darwin, the naturalist whose theory about evolution is legendary.

Sculpted by Hugo Rheinhold and first publicly exhibited in 1893 at the Great Berlin Art Exhibition, this sculpture both amuses and intrigues. As the chimpanzee contemplates a human skull, he rests on a pile of books–one of which is by Darwin, the naturalist whose theory about evolution is legendary. Technically,  a chimpanzee is not a monkey – the genus Pan is part of the subfamily Hominidae, to which humans also belong,

Written By:  Heather Clemenceau

As most everyone knows, the hearing to establish where Darwin the IKEA monkey lives (at least until the scheduled trial in May) has come and gone.  While Superior Court Justice Brown found that the plaintiff, Darwin’s former owner Yasmin Nakhuda had “credibility issues,” the court of public opinion also played out on Facebook pages supporting Nakhuda and private ownership of exotics.

The hearing itself was prone to the odd verbal blunder or embarrassment that might have prompted a chuckle or two, but many of the Facebook posts  made by exotic animal collectors,  conspiracy theorists,  or other perpetually misguided individuals amused,  entertained,  and exasperated many observers.

While it’s hard not to laugh at the delirious craziness and massive cognitive errors in many comments or posts, many other posts clearly constitute harassment against the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary and its supporters.

The Debate Beginsmonkey_makeup

In late December, the “Darling Darwin Monkey” page is created on Facebook and immediately attracts people who both support and decry exotic ownership in varying degrees.  “Monkey Mom” leaves most of the arguing up her supporters, some of whom were banned from the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary’s own Facebook page.  Judging by the hysterical shrieks seen on the DDM page, I totally get why they were kicked to the curb.

I realize that lawyers are not biologists, nor do they know anything about the scientific method, so I won’t be too hard on the plaintiff’s lawyer Ted Charney.  Mr. Charney began his opening remarks at the hearing by somewhat likening Darwin, the monkey, to his namesake,  “scientist” Charles Darwin,  who,  according to him,  “invented evolution.”  What Darwin  – a naturalist – actually provided in The Origin of Species, was the theory for how evolution could occur through purely natural forces – “natural selection,” which he posited drove evolution.

The Debate Continues

Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of a conspiracy theory or logical fallacy, which obey their own special laws.  So when it looks like someone who is armed with facts is about to upset a cherished applecart on the DDM Facebook page, there is only one thing to do – move the goalposts.  The phrase evokes an image of the goal posts in the endzone of a football game which are slowly moved to the back of the endzone as one team threatens to score.  Behind this Facebook squabbling there has been some serious goalpost maneuvering, in an effort to redefine exactly what constitutes “proof.”  One of the best examples of this in action occurs during the discussion of the donated plants in the monkey habitats, where it was constantly claimed  that the plants weren’t actually donated,  or weren’t valued at $3,000, were never placed in the habitats, or just didn’t exist.   Each time proof was provided the goalpost was moved back further in an attempt to confound the truth.

howler monkeysThe Debate Gets Ridiculous

The Facebook page in question continued to offer a veritable treasure chest of “wisdom” in refuting the truth.  It’s a place where no good deed goes unpunished and common sense is not so common.

People making the following types of comments/actions are truly in a race for the bottom.  Check out their “field guide” for dealing with the intellectually honest:

  1. Always make sure to bring minor children into arguments with adults with the blessing of the parent, and then have the kid protest that he’s only a kid when adults call him on his statements.

  2. When adults argue with children in response to the above, insist that arguing with a child is bullying, but if they pre-emptively block that child, call them on it because  “he has a right to be heard.”

  3. Be sure to file a copyright claim against any company or individual selling (Charles) Darwin merchandise!

  4. Do claim that IKEA is at fault for calling Toronto Animal Services to collect Darwin from the parking lot, because we know they should have simply just captured him and instructed shoppers to “claim their stylishly dressed primate at customer service.”

  5. Blame IKEA customers themselves, for they should have put their fears about unknown animals aside and just picked Darwin up and then waited around for his owner to return from shopping. It’s not as though they have anything better to do on a Saturday anyway.

  6. Be sure to let everyone know that a Japanese macaque, who lives in cold climates part of the year, is “cold” because he’s growing a coat.

  7. Don’t forget to compare Canada to Nazi Germany.

  8. Vent your frustration all over Facebook if you see a picture of Darwin alone, but make sure to let everyone know that under no circumstances should he be introduced to another monkey.

  9. Remember to toss out the conspiracy theory that plaintiff Nakhuda’s email was hacked by Sherri Delaney and that’s how emails to/from Lisa Whiteaker were “intercepted.”

  10. Tell Story Book supporters that they must prove their point with supporting documentation, and then tell them not to rely on everything they read.  Then lose the documentation they provide and ask for more.

  11. Make sure everyone knows that the monkeys are simultaneously too hot and too cold in their habitats at Story Book.

  12. Take active steps to harass the sanctuary and express incredulity when people ask why it looks like a fortress with security guards at the front gate.

  13. Complain about monkeys in cages but continue to support exotic animal breeders.

  14. Petition to ask the OSPCA to inspect the property – and once it does, make sure everyone knows that that’s just not good enough.

  15. Bitch that there was not enough enrichment at the sanctuary, and then whine that food being hidden and painting for monkeys is cruel and unusual punishment and exploitation.

  16. Phone in a complaint to the local Fire Department, and when they pass the sanctuary, hint that the Fire Department is either incompetent or in cahoots with the sanctuary.

  17. Keep up the pressure on the logical members of the group by continuing to make shrill accusations about Story Book and Darwin’s “B” status.  Ignore the fact that a high percentage of monkeys are Herp B positive and blissfully disregard Story Book’s own statement that Darwin was tested (by them) and found to be negative.

  18. When it is pointed out that a monkey has been stewing in its own shitty diaper, be sure to make comments about someone’s hair in retaliation.

  19. Lambast Story Book for fundraising whilst simultaneously complaining that they operate on a shoe-string budget.

  20. Harass Story Book’s fundraising partners and sponsors.

  21. Give everyone the false impression that Story Book is illegal/unlicensed while not batting an eye at the prospect of unlicensed, illegal pets.

  22. Criticize Story Book’s founder for not being stylish enough in court, but suggest that she’s spending the charity’s money in high end Toronto department stores.

  23. Set up a poorly thought-out Facebook page to gather recruits to “Free all 24 primates at Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary,” and when confronted about its mission,  hurriedly take it down.

  24. Be sure to toss in a few claims that someone threatened to rape and murder you for good measure.

  25. Use children to tell Story Book supporters that they are being “investigated.”

tinfoil hatThe Verdict

Justice Brown ultimately rendered his opinion that Darwin should remain at Story Book, in the absence of convincing evidence to the contrary.  The judge heard no evidence of wrongdoing or neglect from the plaintiffs counsel Charney against Story Book, and was not convinced by “expert” testimony that Darwin’s relationship with his owner would be irretrievably damaged.  Nakhuda and her son refused to stand when the judge left the courtroom. There were a few statements made either in closing arguments or interviews after-the-fact that should be filed under the category “too good not to report.”

  1. She doesn’t go around smacking the monkey.”  Statement by plaintiff counsel Ted Charney.  What an unfortunate choice of words.  Truly.
  2. Darwin is not a wild animal, he is a domesticated animal; he was wearing a coat and a diaper.”  Plaintiff’s counsel  Ted Charney.  It’s not appropriate to keep the most stylishly-attired animal in the house if he is biting a twelve-year old.
  3. I speak macaque.”  The defendant’s lawyer,  Kevin Toyne scoffed at the “expert” characterization, deriding as ridiculous Ms. Peggy Rice’s claim that she could “speak macaque.”

Unfortunately it seems as though the media circus is far from over.  A quick Google seach shows that “IKEA monkey” often outranks legitimate IKEA social media comments and websites.  Monkey ownersdrunk_as_monkey from across the US and Canada,  who see this as a “right to own” issue and who have no familiarity with by-laws in Toronto or the Kawarthas, are still harassing this sanctuary.  Sanctuaries are run by hard working people, who hold down jobs outside of the sanctuary, and much of their operating funds come from donations.

The idea that any rescue is looking for additional animals to feed just to spitefully keep animals away from “responsible owners” deserves ridicule.  Story Book played no role in Darwin’s arrival at the sanctuary and without them there would be fewer options for monkeys who retire from research,  or are surrendered by roadside zoos or private owners.

chimp-painterAfter witnessing the dirty tricks campaign against Story Book, I can perhaps co-sign a Stanford geneticist’s study that suggests that human cognition is in decline.  Despite evidence of some humans acting like neanderthals,  we still live in a civilized society.  Every civilized society must strive to insure that the innocent aren’t punished along with the “guilty.” Protecting the innocent from unjust harm as a result of wrongful accusations is a hallmark of a civilized society.  Much of what I’ve seen posted on Facebook pages and handed out to journalists is quite actionable in the tort system, should any of the maligned animal activists choose to make a case for defamation.  And however strongly we feel the instinct to mother wild animals, it is rarely the right response.  To that end,  laws around the world are slowly beginning to reflect the fact that monkeys don’t make good pets.

Please support Story Book Farm on Facebook.

“Rosencrantz: I don’t believe in it anyway.
Guildenstern: What?
Rosencrantz: England.
Guildenstern: Just a conspiracy of cartographers, then? ”

monkey mom love

Start The Car! The IKEA Monkey Chronicle Gets Ugly

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Monkey group in a naturalistic environment

Monkey group in a naturalistic environment

Written By:  Heather Clemenceau

The discovery of Darwin, a juvenile macaque found wandering the Toronto IKEA store parking lot in a shearling coat, has divided various groups on the internet.  As most Torontonians already know, the “IKEA Monkey” was taken from the store by Toronto Animal Services and ultimately placed at Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ontario.  Story Book takes in such lost souls—monkeys who have been commandeered for lab research or just dumped by roadside zoos. Bravo to Story Book Farm!

You’d be wrong in thinking that Darwin’s case was straightforward,  even though it’s illegal to own a non-human primate in Toronto.  It’s also generally frowned upon to  leave an exotic animal in a car in winter while shopping.  In response,  defenders of exotic animal ownership,  property rights,  and various other asshats and wingnuts have laid siege to Story Book Farm in an attempt to discredit them.   Darwin has lawyered-up, or rather his former owner Yasmin Nakhuda has launched a lawsuit as well.

Such tactics include, but are not limited to sending a petition to Brock Township councillors accusing

Darwin's jacket

Darwin’s jacket

Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary of animal cruelty.  The petition, with some 116 typed “signatures,” was hand-delivered to council members’ homes early January,  calls for municipal officials to launch a “full investigation” on the sanctuary’s operation.  It’s not known whether they actually have any evidence,  not that that would be a deterrent for some of these people.  And is anyone else bothered by the fact that the petitions were delivered to the councillor’s private HOMES?  Brock Township Mayor Terry Clayton stipulated that the “petition will have no bearing on the licensing process” for Story Book Farm.  Brad Dewar, spokesperson for the OSPCA, said that the petition had not been delivered to the association’s  office. The OSPCA can’t begin an investigation without first interviewing a witness to the alleged misconduct, he said.  “Petitions are great for identifying concerns, but from an investigation standpoint, we need eyewitnesses to come forward to engage in an investigation,” he said.  Herein lies the problem for the signers of the petition – have any of them been to the sanctuary or seen any cruelty?  Furthermore,  could a lawyer (Nakhuda) be disciplined if any statements in the petition linked to or co-signed by her were found to be blatantly false even if she did not make them herself?  Inquiring minds want to know!

Who wore it better?  Darwin or Delboy?

Who wore it better? Darwin or Delboy?

I can’t imagine what “cruelty” these detractors think is happening at Story Book.  But that’s really a rhetorical question,  since facts make strange bedfellows for them.  What would be the alternative for Darwin or any other monkey that is seized or surrendered in Ontario?  My personal belief is that NO MATTER WHERE Darwin was sent,  the exotics breeders and owners would DESCEND with malice aforethought on that sanctuary just as they have with Story Book.  When Darwin was collected from his mis-adventure in the IKEA parking lot, Toronto Animal Services temporarily housed him in a standard pet carry-all sized cage with barking dogs and other animals in the vicinity.  Without such sanctuary placements, the alternative is to warehouse “pet” monkeys,  which the majority of zoos will not accept,  or euthanize them outright.  And is it cruel for a monkey to have to wear diapers its entire life so that it can be accommodated in a household with people?

A posting on the Facebook page – “Darling Darwin Monkey” indicated that the petition had been

Who could not feel sorry for this tiny forlorn creature in a confusing parking lot?

Who could not feel sorry for this tiny forlorn creature in a confusing parking lot?

delivered to the Township, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA), and the Charities Directorate of the Canadian Revenue Agency, requesting “an investigation in several allegations of cruelty, hoarding, manipulation, lack of experience and abuse of their charitable status by the Sanctuary.”  In other words,  they’ve thrown some monkey shit up against the wall in hoping something will stick.  Do lawyers even know what evidence is  in this day and age?  But Yasmin Nakhuda is a real estate lawyer,  not exactly at the top of the legal food-chain. The Facebook page is frequented by supporters of Darwin’s former owner Nakhuda as well as animal advocates who know that Darwin is a wild animal who will exhibit behavioural changes once he reaches  sexual maturity.

Aside from these unsubstantiated claims by the supporters of exotic pet ownership, it’s apparent that none of them see any shame in supporting the exotic trade of animals such as Darwin, who was uprooted from his mother after only a few weeks,  to be bottle-fed by Yasmin while wearing diapers.  The juveniles of many monkey species live with their mothers for up to two

Darwin's temporary living accommodations after seizure by Toronto Animal Services - where he would have stayed had he not been transferred to Story Book

Darwin’s temporary living accommodations after seizure by Toronto Animal Services – where he would have stayed had he not been transferred to Story Book – does this look like suitable long-term care?

years. The precarious state of primates in the illegal pet trade bring up the issues of animal ethics, ecosystem health and many conservation issues.  When people illegally source monkeys from the animal trade they do not recognize or care that this is all it takes to support the illegal pet trade.  The “trade” threatens a great number of endangered and vulnerable species.  A monkey is not a child.  I very much sympathize with Nakhuda’s emotional position, but Darwin is a wild animal who needs the company of his own and other primate species – to claim that any monkey is better suited to living its life in diapers with humans, forced to adapt to human culture, is baseless anthropomorphization.

Apart from calling attention to the various dirty-tricks campaigns currently underway, I’m most interested throwing some shade on the belief that monkeys make good pets or that they are suddenly domesticated after one or two generations.  I’ll drop a flat “no” on both of those claims.

Darwin at Story Book

Darwin at Story Book

Monkeys carry Cercopithecine herpesvirus, which is transmissible to humans and stays with you for life.  This form of herpesvirus simiae can cause fatal encephalitis in people if they’ve been bitten by a monkey carrier.  You also don’t want to get bitten by a monkey under any circumstances,  because they have sharp teeth and they often attack the face or ears,  where there are lots of blood vessels located very close to the brain.  A paper co-authored by people from the CDC (Ostrowski et al, Emerging Infectious Diseases 1998) states clearly “The extremely high prevalence of B-virus along with their behavioral characteristics make the macaque species unsuitable as pets.”  PetWatch (a program of EcoHealth Alliance) ranks macaques as “Worst Choice Pet.”

The idea that humans immediately “tame” an animal born into captivity is misleading.  Wolves originally kept by humans as companions were turned into “dogs” by selectively breeding the tame animals.  Humans bred the animals that reacted well to humans, and did not breed animals that were aggressive or ran away.  What was not realized at the time was that we were assisted in turning wolves into dogs because behaviour in animals is a heritable trait, like intelligence.

Geneticist George Price, of Price’s Theorem fame, defined domestication as a process by which a

Darwin secured inside the IKEA store

Darwin secured inside the IKEA store

population of animals becomes adapted to man and the environment as a result of genetic mutation, neurochemical changes, and environmentally induced developmental changes. In long-term selection experiments designed to study the consequences of selection for the “tame” domesticated type of behaviour, Belyaev et al. (1981) studied foxes reared for their fur. The red fox (Vulpes fulva) has been raised on seminatural fur farms for over 100 years and was selected for fur traits and not behavioural traits.  The objective of this experiment was to breed animals similar in behaviour to the domestic dog. By selecting and breeding the tamest individuals, 20 years later the experiment succeeded in turning wild foxes into tame “dogs.”

While Price and Belyaev were refining the principles of conditioning on animals, ethology – the study of the way genes are modified during evolution to deal with particular environments,  was a developing science.  Konrad Lorenz and Niko Tinbergen cataloged the behaviour of many animals in their natural environments. Together they developed the ethogram. An ethogram is a complete listing of all the behaviours that an animal performs in its natural environment. It includes both innate and learned behaviours – hard-wired programs versus experience and learning.  People intent on returning Darwin to a home-based environment don’t seem to know or wish to acknowledge that even animals with large, complex brains are still governed by innate behaviour patterns.  As these studies have shown,  instantaneous pets are not created via short-term human influence,  regardless of whether dog or monkey is the subject matter.

Pip and Zeke from Jungle Friends

Pip and Zeke from Jungle Friends

Kari Bagnall, the CEO of Jungle Friends, gave testimony on the Ohio exotics Senate Bill 310.  She couldn’t come to Columbus, so it was submitted as written testimony.  Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, located on 12 acres in Gainesville, Florida. Jungle Friends is accredited by the American Sanctuary Association and The Association of Sanctuaries.   The Ohio law will ban new ownership of specific wild animals, including big cats, bears, hyenas, gray wolves, some primates, alligators and crocodiles – all animals that exotics people feel  they automatically have the right to own without restriction.  The Bill will also require owners of restricted species to obtain liability insurance or surety bonds for $200,000 to $1 million, and mandate criminal-background checks of current exotic-animal owners seeking permits.   Please read Kari Bagnall’s very compelling testimony describing the circumstances by which monkeys came to her sanctuary;  I reproduce it here with permission from Ms. Bagnall herself:

Monkey Orchid - a good substitute for an actual monkey,  diapers not required  and guaranteed not to bite....

Monkey Orchid – a good substitute for an actual monkey, diapers not required and guaranteed not to bite….

What eludes me is the “logic” involved in attacking the sanctuary, which did nothing wrong and certainly did not steal him nor let the latch on the car loose so he could escape.  For some reason, humans feel entltled to raise babies in unnatural circumstances. Darwin’s sad case has served to highlight the fact that he is not just a meme,  an IKEA monkey, but a macaque capable of living to his fullest potential in a more natural environment.  We need to educate others and create awareness of illegal pets who need to live their lives as non-human apes.