January 05, 2011



For some who find themselves with the enormous responsibility of nurturing an orphaned primate, the decision to pass the baby on to a rehabilitation centre is an easy one. But for others, once the inevitable child/parent bond has taken grip, it is hard to see the situation objectively and to do what is best for the – long term - interests of the monkey or baboon.

Understandably, once one feels the instinctual protective drive that occurs when surrogate mothering a baby primate, to pass the baby onto a stranger at a rehabilitation centre can be a difficult step to take. 

You'd like to be the one in control of the destiny of the little primate you have come to love. 

You'd like to see for yourself that the primate is happy and cared for and you want to be there to ensure this all happens.

It is at this point that you need to try and look at the situation from a distance. 

Right now, you may be able to offer the baby all the nurturing s/he needs. But what about the future?  
Are you aware that every choice you make will impact permanently on this monkey or baboons' life in some or other way. Primates learn through experience and observation and any choice you make on behalf of the orphan in your care will certainly stay - in some way - for a lifetime.

Ask yourself if you are able to give the primate 24 hours a day care and whether this will be the case well into the future – remember baboons live for about 40 years and monkeys for about 25 years.

Ask yourself if you – as a human – are truly able to give a wild primate all that s/he needs in terms of social interaction. Remember... these are highly social animals who live in close-knit complex groups and require a strong social system with a group rather than one individual on a long term basis.

Ask yourself if you are able to accept being severely bitten and whether you mind having your home defecated in daily? These are normal behaviours when monkeys learn to regard humans as part of their family group.

The longer you keep a monkey or baboon with humans, the harder it is to integrate them with their own kind and the less chance there will be of the animal having a fulfilling existence with other monkeys.

It is not possible for any human to give to a monkey or baboon all that they they need, especially once they pass the age of sexual maturity whereby nurturing the monkey as a surrogate child is no longer appropriate no matter how you look at it.


Biting is an integral aspect of monkey language. When one nurtures a baby monkey/baboon for too long, they learn to communicate with humans in much the same way they would do to other monkeys and biting is inevitable. If the monkey in your care does not bite you ,s/he will certainly bite other humans connected to you. This is because these animals are very territorial and biting others that are not part of their immediate family group is perfectly normal in monkey language. Once “pet”monkeys begin to bite their human caretakers, they are usually relocated to a rehabilitation centre where it is often too late to rehabilitate them back into the wild.

The other aspect about monkeys that people have difficulty living with are their toilet habits. Living with a monkey who defecates all over your home becomes intolerable for most people over time.

Keeping monkeys or baboons is illegal. Once you have taken on this task, you will always be worried that the “pet” in your care could be confiscated – and perhaps euthanased – by the authorities.

However cute and lovable a baby primate can be, it is important to understand that this is a short term situation. Consider the future of the orphan with a selfless love that is able to do what is best for the primate in the long run.

Contact us for information about a reputable primate rescue centre in your area.