13 May 2006

In this week's edition of the Weekly Alibi, Albuquerque's alternative weekly newspaper, the following ad caught my attention:
Live Spider Monkeys!
$20/Each Delivered to Your

Now, I'm no expert in the primate trade, but I thought that sort of thing might be illegal. (If so, it wouldn't be the only illegal ad in the newspaper - there are always ads for "escort services." But that's a different story.) I decided to go online to find out more about spider monkey sales. I found this website, which gives horrific testimonials about why owning primates is a terrible idea; basically, people get primates because a) they're lonely or b) they can't have kids. The baby primates are cute - they drink from bottles, wear diapers, etc. People evidently try to treat them like children, even giving them Christmas stockings. Then the primates grow up, and all of a sudden...

"Yes, I still miss the end of my finger...severe nerve damage left it completely numb, and that was just a deep gash from a squirrel monk. Li'l stinker!!!"

"I thought Kaylie was the perfect child. I bottle-raised her from infancy. She slept with me, went to do shopping errands with me and was part of the family. When she was a baby capuchin, I would never have imagined that as a three-year-old Kaylie would attack me with no warning. The nerves in my hand and wrist were so severely severed that I will likely never regain use of my hand despite all of the surgeries I have endured."

Besides the recurrent theme of permanent nerve damage, monkeys can impart diseases like tuberculosis, hepatitis, and simian Herpes. Fun!

(My own limited experience with monkeys as a child backs up these testimonials - when we were in Mexico, a caged monkey grabbed my little brother's hair and didn't let go for quite some time. He still laughs about what a grand time that was.)

I then decided to check my state and local laws. Luckily Albuquerque is very animal friendly - our mayor was recently re-elected on a dual platform: a) he promised to build a road through a sacred Native American site and b) he likes puppies a lot. Puppies are on the evening news oh, every night. So sure enough, the city code says you're not allowed to sell or own spider monkeys without a permit. I e-mailed the city about the ad. We'll see what happens...

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