By LeeAnn Cain / Staff Writer
Monkeys might be cute, but they do not make good pets.
That’s the message the Primate Rescue Center aims to share during a presentation at Laurel County Public Library from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
During the presentation, Eileen Dunnington, who works at the center, will discuss the pitfalls of keeping apes, monkeys and lemurs as pets and what the rescue center does to reverse psychological and physical damage done to the animals by their former owners. She will also talk about the work done at the Primate Rescue Center to rehabilitate former pets, primates used in entertainment, primates transported to Kentucky illegally and seized, and primates pulled from laboratories.
According to the center’s Executive Director and Founder April Truitt, any wild animal is unsuitable as a pet because while the babies may make cute pets, adults will inevitably begin to display wild behaviors unmanageable by their human “captors.” Truitt said that sellers of primates will use various methods of control, such as pulling out teeth or using shock collars, to make adults appear more appealing to buyers of the babies.
“These animals are hard wired to be wild,” Truitt said. “They will show that to their captors at some point.”
Truitt said many of these animals, particularly smaller species of primates, do not survive being pets. Many people make mistakes in the care of exotic animals such as keeping them in improper temperatures or feeding them improper diets.
Truitt also said if a primate is kept as a pet too long, it can fail to develop socially and it is difficult for it to adapt to a more natural life in the rescue center. Like humans, baby primates need to socialize with members of their own kind to grow up with the ability to function in groups and if a primate is kept as a pet for several years that window for socialization can close.
“There is a myth [people] can keep primates as pets, and we are trying to dispel that myth,” Truitt said.
The Primate Rescue Center is located in Nicholasville and is home to more than 50 rescued monkeys and apes, including 11 chimpanzees. According to Truitt, the center rescues “survivors” of pet situations. The Primate Rescue Center works to alleviate the suffering of primates everywhere by working to toughen animal protection laws and to end the private trade of these animals, both in the U.S. and abroad.
The center is not open to the public; Truitt said they do not have exhibits and are mainly focused on providing suitable habitats for rescued primates. The center also does not reintroduce primates into the wild; Truitt said former pets can carry human diseases that can spread to wild members of their species. The rescue center relies entirely on donations, and is a non-profit organization. Donations can be made at https://www.primaterescue.org/get-involved/how-to-help/.
Registration for the presentation is appreciated. Register online at www.laurellibrary.org, or for more information, call 606-864-5759.