I can’t believe it but it has been over 7 years since we purchased Benji, a male cinnamon capuchin, from an animal auction. We’ve had him since he was 4 months old and while challenging at times, I truly enjoy spending time with him every single day whether it is “chase the monkey” or “cuddle time”. Just like their human counterpart, monkeys are very social animals so spending lots of time with them is crucial to keep them happy and healthy. Since humans can’t really replace the relationship they have with their own kind, we were looking for another cinnamon capuchin for quite some time because lets face it, they get bored so easily at the moments we’re not spending time with them. When trying to find a companion, the biggest chance for success is by pairing them with the same kind, same sex so we were in essence looking for another male cinnamon capuchin between the ages of 4-7. Given the fact that there aren’t that many cinnamon capuchins available in the USA, we knew we might have to be a bit flexible.
It was March 2017 and Dora, a 10 year cinnamon capuchin, was being auctioned off for the second time in a month. The first time she was auctioned off through an intermediary by an exotic animal sanctuary to a family with small children. At that time I didn’t do any bidding since I was worried about the age, any possible aggression, and her being the wrong sex. The initial seller simply wasn’t willing to provide me with answers to any of my questions. I assume since they were handling as the broker for this sanctuary that they couldn’t really answer any of my questions anyway.
As expected, within 2 weeks time Dora was put up on another online auction site by the new owners. According to the initial auction Dora preferred males but the new owner claimed Dora was getting along with everybody except for their 10 year old daughter but that was, according to them, because she was scared of Dora. In short, you could tell they were first time owners and this experience wasn’t what they thought it was going to be. When we tell people that a rehome isn’t for new owners, there is a reason for that. Rehomes can be very challenging and lots of time and patience is often required to get them to trust you. While I won the second and third auction, the new owner wasn’t willing to part with Dora simply because the price wasn’t high enough. While capuchin rehomes at this age are worth between $2500-$3500, I ended up paying $5000 for Dora simply because I felt bad for her. The new owner wanted what was best for Dora and I guess that meant the highest possible price.
On 3/26/2017 I met the seller at a parking lot of my hotel in Kansas very early in the morning. We chose this location to cut my driving time down by 6 hours. In advanced, we agreed that during the purchase process I was expecting a new health certificate since that is something required by law when you cross state lines. I also told the seller that I wanted a bill of sale and ended up creating my own since I wanted to make sure this form also included the information needed to identify Dora and all contact details from both the seller and the buyer.
You could tell Dora was under a lot of stress at the time so I was glad to get home later during the day. She had her own enclosure and official introductions with Benji weren’t planned until I was actually able to at least somewhat handle her. When introducing new monkeys to your troop, it is important to form a relationship with them before they do with each-other otherwise they might no longer have an interest in getting to know you. Benji and Dora’s enclosure are about 10 inches apart so they can just touch each other. Benji clearly showed a lot of interest in Dora but Dora was basically ignoring him. Shortly after obtaining Dora, I also learned a bit more about her past thanks to the provided paperwork which contained contacts. From the short conversation I had with the owner of the exotic animal sanctuary, she was once a pet and once a breeder monkey. They wanted her to go to an owner with no other monkeys which I guess meant that they were never able to successfully pair her in their sanctuary. Since that was the main reason we got Dora, that didn’t sound very promising!
Dora is definitely very different from Benji. While Benji isn’t scared of anything, Dora is extremely skittish and much more unpredictable. Most days Dora isn’t interested in getting out of her enclosure (she’ll let me know with her teeth) but when she does, she will never leave my side. Daily I spent time with Dora inside her enclosure and always try to see if she wants to get out. When we walk around, she will stay on me at all times and under no circumstances will she get off me. When I sit down with her outside of her enclosure, she’ll stay on my lap. Strangely enough, at those times she does seem to be very relaxed. On the days she allows me to hold her tail, I can put a diaper on her and a leash and as long as I don’t pull it, she does really well. She can be super sweet and we love her lots but she definitely isn’t a big fan of noise, sudden movements, or too much excitement. Benji on the other hand has little to no interest in sitting on my shoulders for a long time and just loves to run around the house as fast as he can. We have our daily “chase the monkey” routine because I know he really loves that.
Daily Dora and Benji have their good moments and always seem to want to groom each other from a short distance but if I leave them together, they will end up fighting after a while to the point where they won’t stop until I get in between them. Let me make one thing clear, breaking up two fighting monkeys is not an easy task. Every time this happens, we do not allow any contact between them for at least a week. While I’ve yet to figure out what they’re fighting about, I believe Benji sometimes wants to interact with Dora too much and that doesn’t end up well with somebody that is so extremely skittish. We’ll continue to work with both monkeys daily and hopefully one day Dora and Benji become friends. Their outdoor enclosure is nearly ready and will feature 2 tunnels that I can close off from a distance. That way I can either let Benji or Dora play outside or maybe one day both at the same time!
Next time when you hear somebody say “get a rehome”, just remember that they all come with a past and that introductions can be very challenging. We love Dora very much but our goal to find a companion for Benji has yet to be achieved. Only time will tell how this relationship will evolve.