Your Monkeys and Corona Virus COVID-19

By Mary Lynn Campbell

capuching at vets office
Willy, Myself and Dr. David Ratliff DVM

This is a post that I wanted to share from my wonderful retired vet, Dr. David Ratliff, DVM from Sevierville, Tennessee.

“My name is Dr.David Ratliff. I am a retired veterinarian who has cared for many monkeys in my career. Please use extreme caution with your monkeys while this virus is circulating. Honestly we do not know just how species specific the COVID-19 is at this point. However, the primate community would be the most likely place for the virus to jump from human back into animals. Out of an abundance of caution, it is recommended that those ill with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. Have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding, and playing with your pet. If you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, then wear a facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with them. Currently macaques, marmosets, and African green monkeys are being tested as research models along with the SARS mice model and ferrets. “

Thank you Dr Ratliff for continuing to care about our beloved monkeys.

My History With Sickness And My Monkey

In January, I started into my 31st year of living with monkeys and of doing an Educational through Entertainment Program with them. As many of you readers know, I have had many monkeys shared or rehomed with me throughout the years.  By receiving so many monkeys who had not been raised properly, I decided to write a book while I was raising my new baby monkey named Silly Willy.  The “Living With Monkeys” book is sold on our sister site We would like to invite you to not only check out our book but the other books that are offered there as well.

I feel that it is also important to share with our readers that in all of this time of sharing my monkeys in public, that they have never contracted any cold, virus or illness from me or any of the audience members that I have shared them with. I know this sounds amazing but it is true.

I do have one diabetic monkey who has been on insulin for 21 years. This happened to her because I did not understand how important it was to feed a good diet and limit sugar or foods that turn into sugar as the body processes them. Diabetes is a very hard thing to balance properly with a monkey.

Please do not think that this cannot and will not happen to your monkey or the monkey you are thinking about obtaining. Monkeys who become diabetic can be born with it, however, almost all of the time this happens because they were not kept on a healthy diet. Please understand the importance of a proper diet for your monkey. Diabetes can and will shorten the life expectancy of a monkey. I learned the hard way and now I must give insulin everyday to my precious Maggie May.

diabetic capuchin
Maggie May (age 28)
Story Time

Back in 1995, I was still in the process of building the business of SunShine Monkey Shines in the East Tennessee area. At that time I was doing all types of gatherings, especially children’s birthday parties.

Even now I remember this one particular birthday party, not only because of this story that I am about to tell, but this also happened to be one of the few jobs that my mother, the retired elementary teacher, decided to go on with us.

I had asked her during this period of time to go with us so she could critique the educational part of the show and also to get the feel for how I kept control of the many sugared-up children that were guests at the shows.

I will always remember the little red face of this little four year old birthday boy, named Johnny. He didn’t seem to be very happy during his party. It was his time to star in the show with Andrew Jackson, one of our little monkey stars.  He was very good and did everything that I ask of him to do during the show, and I was actually able to get a few smiles from him as he was participating with the little monkey but I felt Johnny was not enjoying his special monkey party.

The party was a success and my mother said she enjoyed every moment of it. Every time she went with us she always offered wonderful suggestions and helped me to be a better educator.

This particular party was very close to the farm so within a few moments we were back home. As usual the other monkeys were woo-wooing us when I came in with the two show monkeys. Everything was perfect in our world and it was a beautiful spring afternoon. At 8pm that same evening the call came in.  The families voice said to me, “Mary Lynn, this is Johnny’s mother. Thank you again for coming. We really enjoyed the show with the monkeys for Johnny’s party”. She paused for a moment and they continued to say, “ We have a problem and I am so worried for your monkeys!

I remember instantly thinking to myself , “Did my monkeys scratch or hurt someone and mother and I did not see it happen?” My heart was pounding with worry about what her next words were going to be.

Finally, she said, “Johnny has broken out with the chicken pox.  Almost all of the children that attended the party are children from his daycare. Oh, Mary Lynn, we are so worried about your little monkeys getting sick from being at the birthday party. I know my son definitely has the chicken pox!

I did not express my worry but I was very thankful that the birthday boy’s mother had been concerned enough about the monkeys to give me a call.

Now, I began to panic about my monkeys. I remember my mother was very positive and she felt that the monkeys would be fine. This helped me be much more positive. I knew I had a strong faith in my mission with the monkeys and I believed that I was being blessed by God and that He would keep them safe.

As it turned out they remained perfectly healthy, and I was full of gratitude that they had been protected and we had been blessed so richly by God.

Why Did I Share This Story?

I decided to write this story down for this post so that I could not only share it with all of you readers, but I would get to remember every detail about this event. You see, I have been very fearful not for myself or my husband but for the life of my precious monkeys during this current time. The news from around the world about the virus and all of the Facebook posts have overwhelmed me with fear and a lack of peace about what is best to do to protect my monkey family.

As I began remembering how blessed I have been with my monkeys in the past it started helping me to regain my faith in God’s ability to do his job, once again.

If you too are having a crises in your faith about the seriousness of this virus, I hope this post will help you as much as it has help me regain my balance and grounding by sharing it. I am asking God to bless us all with His gifts of love, peace and of course, His grace.

Be The Best Monkey Caregiver That You Can Be

capuchin corona virus covid-19
Silly Willy (age 12) and Mary Lynn

Thank you for visiting us here at Primate Care. We are committed to bringing good information for you to think about and share with your family, friends, and other monkey caregivers. In the next post we will be talking about “Monkeys Who Are Housed Singly In Our Homes.”

Written by Mary Lynn Campbell author of  “Living With Monkeys”

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