By Vicky Shoemaker
I have had monkeys for 12 years. We started with Kirsty who came from a dirty old livestock auction. We were there to buy saddles for resale (we’d tried to buy and sell horses but that was too depressing – a good home does not always mean a good home and “sound” doesn’t always mean healthy!). I never forgot the monkey I’d met when I was small and dreamed of having one “just like that one” (ha). I couldn’t get hubby to bid – I’d just got him used to dogs and horses! The guy who was selling Kirsty passed because he could only get $50 (I said it was an old dirty livestock auction – what do cowboys want with a monkey? – kidding cowboys!) This gave me time to talk hubby into a new adventure. We got Kirsty (who we thought was “Kirby” at the time) for what we had in our pockets – $80. We had no idea what monkeys sold far and this was hard times for us. I can assure you that if we’d known what it costs to keep a monkey, hubby never would have gone for it! ha Kirsty was sweet as could be until we went to put her in the back of the truck (hubby wouldn’t go for putting him/her in the front with us). Well, first thing Kirsty did was to give hubby a few good bites. Hubby was fit to be tied but we got Kirsty in the camper. I think this was the first time he’d ever been bitten by an animal – at least, the first in a long time. She was all bones so we stopped at a store and bought her a carrot cake which she “inhaled”. Now that we know about monkeys I realize that it is amazing that she didn’t take lots of opportunities to escape. I can only think that this was our fate and nothing was going to change it. On the romantic side maybe Kirsty knew who we really were before we ever did! We weren’t sure what was underneath the pillow case corners that were attached to her hands by rubber bands but when we finally looked the next day, we were horrified. Kirsty had gangrene on many of her fingers and the flesh was eating away to expose bone. I couldn’t believe she was not screaming in pain but she wasn’t. This was a weekend but we set out on our search for a vet – rude awakening in a long list of obstacles … finding a vet who will see primates. The first we called told us he would confiscate it and give it over for experiments (I kid you not). I realize now what he was up to but I will never forgive him. We’d explained the situation and I know he thought we had gone to an exotic auction and purchased a monkey. The thing is that a monkey could have died because of him. I realize he felt it was better off dead than being a pet but he shouldn’t advertise to seeing exotics if that is how he feels. Anyway, we finally found a vet (2 hours away) and he fixed Kirsty’s hands. He had to remove a few finger parts but after 10 days her hands looked great compared to what had been there. This vet led us to The Simian Society of America, thank goodness. We learned the correct diet, health, environment, etc. The weird “fate” deal was that a few months earlier a friend of my sister had a cage to sell (cheap) and we’d bought it. Turned out they’d had a capuchin monkey for years but lost him. The cage was sitting empty so when they heard we liked animals they thought we might have a need for it. We got it planning to put “whatever” in it – never planning to put a monkey.