By Sony Rickson

Breeders will always be there, nobody will ever change that! As far back as history goes, man always lived with pets – even exotics. Since there are breeders and there is no way that anyone is going to stop them, why not concentrate more on the actions of breeders and the people who purchase their animals? Do they truly care about the primates they are breeding, do they place them in homes that are proper for them, do they tell people the facts about the primates they are placing before they sell it to them? Are they interested in the welfare of the animal or is it the money or making a name for themselves that matters most? Do the people purchasing the animal know the proper care of that species, can they afford the vet care and housing requirements, why are they purchasing this type of animal?

Since people will always purchase primates, no matter how much anyone tries to talk them out of it, why not concentrate on educating owners and potential owners?  That is a goal I set for myself, to aide primate owners and to educate potential owners about primate ownership.  I try to answer peoples’ questions about all aspects of  owning a primate and if I can’t answer the question, I direct them to someone who can answer either out of experience or expertise. I am still a beginner with juvenile primates, but I am willing to share what I have learned and experienced.

Here are some guidelines about deciding who to purchase your primate from and things that you should do, before you purchase a primate:

1. I always try to buy directly from a breeder instead of going through a broker, this way you can obtain more information about your primate and learn more about it’s history, you know exactly where it came from. Most brokers don’t give you alot of this information that might be useful should the animal ever get sick.  Potential owners: Be aware that you might be told many falsehoods in order to get you to purchase the primate, know who you are dealing with, ask alot of questions!

2. Is the breeder USDA licensed? This is a must, it protects you and the primate and it is also the law.

3. If the breeder will ship the primate, unescorted before the age of 8 weeks, find another breeder! I feel that shipping a primate before that age is dangerous to their health and if the primate gets delayed somewhere, nobody will feed it – ask the airline and they will confirm this. If you have to ship, find the fastest way possible.

4. Does the breeder answer all your questions truthfully such as the age of the primate, how to care for it and what might happen if it is not cared for properly? Do they mention that it can get aggressive when it matures and that it probably will not ‘bond’ with your human children? Do they mention that primates in pairs normally do better than single pet primates? Do they mention the responsibility, money and time it takes to nurture a primate?
If not, find another breeder!

Potential owners: Educate yourself before the fact, learn about diseases, care and diet of the type of primate you would like to purchase – if possible, spend time at someone’s house that owns a primate and observe their care and needs. Again, ask questions.

5. Is the breeder pushing the sale or do they say that maybe you should go home and think about it a while longer?

Potential owners: If the breeder is pushing the sale, you can assume that they are only concerned about money and not the wellbeing of the primate or you. Take your time in deciding, remember, this is possibly a 35-45 year commitment!

6. Is there any type of guarantees? If it is a genetic guarantee you have found a good breeder, not too many offer them anymore. Do they guarantee that the primate is healthy….do they honestly take it to the vet for a health checkup before you take possession? If it is a guarantee that the primate you might purchase will wait on you and entertain you the rest of your life and could possibly become a movie star – laugh and walk away!

Potential owner: Genetic guarantees are a plus and health certificates should come with the primate. Primates have a mind of their own, some are successful at learning tricks and some are not. Do you have the patience and time to train the primate or do you have the money to have a professional do it?

7. Does the breeder ask you questions? If a breeder doesn’t ask you about why you want a primate and how you plan to raise it, do you think they honestly care about the welfare of the primate or you?

Potential owners: A responsible breeder cares!

8. Does the breeder mention cage requirements and talk to you about psychological welbeing needs?

Potential owners: If you cannot meet these needs, you will not have a healthy, happy monkey no matter what anyone tells you! Primates need space and toys and your time.

9. Try to deal with a breeder that you have heard good things about from previous buyers. Be very careful, it’s sad but there are alot of scams going on out there! Be weary of breeders that want all the money upfront.

10. Always try to buy in person so you can see exactly what it is that you are buying. If you can’t do that, try to have the breeder escort the animal to you, it will cost you more, but it is well worth it. If they will do that, they care about the primate and where it is going and you can refuse delivery if something is wrong (age, health, etc)  You will be out the airfare, but you will not be stuck with a primate that was misrepresented to you.

As for the potential owners, here are a few things you should do:

1. Educate yourself about the type of primate you want, before the fact.

2. Have all of your primate’s need available before it’s arrival. (food, cages, etc.)

3. Ask everyone questions…breeders, vets, experts and reputable foundations.

4. Find a vet that treats primates before you purchase one – this is very important!

5. Find people in your area that own primates and ask if you can visit a couple of times.

6. Take your time about deciding to buy a primate, consider all the pros and cons.

7. Check out all the information you get from anyone. Any false information could lead to disaster for you and your primate!

8. Read everything you can get your hands on about primates!

9. Don’t purchase a primate for a companion for a child or as a substitute child.

10. And last but not least, continue to educate yourself after you get your primate, the Internet is a great place to start!

I hope this helps potential owners in their search for a primate. If you do decide to get one I wish you luck and many years of happiness together. I can’t stress enough how important it is to educate yourself before you get your primate and for the sake of both of you, continue that education for the life of your primate.

Sony Rickson – a little about myself:

I am “owned” by 5 capuchin babies: Jasmine, a 2 1/2 yr. old white throated, Misty, a 1 1/2 yr. old weeper, J.P. Booger, a 10 month old cinnamon, Mickey, a 6 month old weeper/tufted and Jessica, a 3 month old cinnamon. I am by no means an expert, but I do consider myself as having had some experience! I spend each and everyday enjoying my primates, they are my job and my life! I currently hold an USDA exhibitor’s license, although my monkeys are not working, maybe someday if I can find the right job for them. I also have servals and other exotics that I raise.

I would like to dedicate this article in memory of Lenora Ward (1941-1997), she was my dearest friend, a wonderful ‘Monkeymom’ to Misty and Mickey and she made me realize that ALL monkeys’ welfare is important, not just ours.

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