By Karen Gill
PRIMATES SOCIAL INTERACTION
PRIMATE RELATIONSHIPS: THE RHESUS FACTOR
ADULT RHESUS MACAQUE BEHAVIOR
CAPTIVE HEARTS TO OUR PROVIDING HANDS: LUCY'S STORY
Important Factors using a Collar or Harness
Holidays and Your Primate
PRIMATES SOCIAL INTERACTION
Questions to ask before exposing Your primate to other primates!
Primates interacting with their own kind provides them with important socialization. I feel it is
beneficial that this interaction takes place. But before introducing your primate to others please be
aware of the risks involved. While their are many factors to consider, I would like to address this
from a health perspective.
Veterinary specialists have helped compile the following questions. Please talk with the primate
owner and ask that these medical requirements be met by their primate.
1). Has your monkey been TB tested and showed a negative result? This test should be
administered to all species.
2). Has your monkey been vaccinated for the following: Mumps, Measles, Rubella, and Polio?
These diseases effect our primates as well as us. Vaccinations are a needed preventative.
3). Has your monkey been exposed to any contagious diseases? Especially monkeys living with
4). Has your monkey been exposed to Chicken Pox within the last ten days? Chicken Pox is fatal
to our primates.
5). MACAQUE OWNERS: Has your monkey been tested for Herpes A & B (serology tested)? A
Herpes A & B infected monkey is a risk to us as well as our monkeys.
These questions cover some of the most serious contagious diseases. Vaccinations and testing are
recommended to ensure your monkeys health will not be compromised.
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PRIMATE RELATIONSHIPS: THE RHESUS FACTOR
We have two female rhesus that we adopted from their original families. Lucy arrived at our house
at around two and a half years of age. Mindy at four years. We had Lucy for over two years before
Mindy came to us.
Firsthand experience and research taught me rhesus are aggressive. Dominance is a very important
issue in rhesus colonies. I knew that we might have a fight on our hands from the minute they saw
each other. So I was prepared to do whatever was necessary to keep both happy and healthy.
Upon first seeing each other both girls seemed interested and non-aggressive. I put both of them
on leashes and let them meet. They proceeded to give each other the biggest monkey hug I have
ever seen. It seemed they both thought they were holding a baby, not realizing they were both
about the same size.
After close to three minutes of hugging they started to become playful. Both of them would flash
play faces and grab the other and bite. They were on a living-room chair while all this was taking
place. They began to be easy and they hugged again. As soon as I stepped back they started to play
You could tell the play was starting to get rough. I compare it to two boys roughhousing. Each one
grabs harder and try's to show they are stronger. I let them play for a while before separating them
into their cages. Their cages are both in the same room but they cannot reach each other. They can
see each other and vocalize frequently.
The next day we put them outside in the play area. I stayed outside the cage ready to step in if
needed. They played, chased, and groomed each other. I saw a little more aggression from Lucy
towards Mindy than reversed. Mindy would present to Lucy and lip smack if Lucy pushed the
aggression to hard. After a few play sessions we could feel comfortable leaving them outside
together without standing guard.
As the weeks went on Mindy was gaining weight and it seemed at the same time she felt the need to
assert herself. We noticed during play times together Mindy would start grabbing at Lucy and
would not back down as easy when Lucy chased her away. Lucy is extremely wary outside. She sits
as high as she can inside the cage and you can tell she is scared of the noises she hears. She seldom
plays or lets down her guard. I think the behavior made her react aggressively to Mindy's attempts
I started to see more and more aggression as the weeks went on. One day I heard growls and
shrieks so loud my heart skipped a beat. The girls were at opposite ends of the cage. Mindy was
sitting on the ground and Lucy was on the branches. Mindy's posture told me she had been on the
receiving end of the attack. I went into the cage and took her out and checked her over. I saw
teeth's indentations on her back and rear. I knew we had to stand guard from then on.
I began to keep a water hose by when watching the girls. If Lucy started after Mindy she would get
squirted. By this time they were seldom enjoying grooming each other. They would more or less
ignore each other until Mindy wanted to play.
It didn't take long until there was another fight. Lucy caught Mindy so fast I couldn't stop it.
Mindy was bruised by Lucy for the last time. I didn't put them together in the cage after that.
My dream was for them to spend allot of time together. For them to have allot of bodily contact
and interaction. I could have let them fight it out and maybe eventually they would have settled
the dominance difference. Maybe one of them would have been permanently disabled by the
fighting. I made the choice to separate and limit contact. I feel it was the right thing to do with
these two monkeys.
The only time they have contact with each other is when they are taken out. We let them go up to
the others cage and they usually groom the other for a while. In the winter they're leashed one at a
time and play inside. They will usually pick a fight if they stay next to the one inside the cage.
Sometimes though they will groom until they both fall asleep.
They are very connected to each other. If one gets mad at something the other is mad. If one is
outside the other cries. They seem to enjoy their relationship. I think the quality of their life is
improved by having one of their own kind in the family.
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ADULT RHESUS MACAQUE BEHAVIOR
Rhesus in the wild are born into a hierarchy in their family group. The adult females ranking in the
group determines the rank of the offspring. The baby born will be ranked just below the mother.
Females in the group know their rank and do not have to fight to maintain their position. Males
will move out of the group at puberty and will assume the lowest rank in the group they join. Any
challenge of rank from a lower ranking individual will be met with severe fighting. Groups also
have a hierarchy, members know if a group they meet is higher or lower in rank. Uncertainly of
rank is cause to fight. Rhesus must know where they and others stand.
When you purchase a baby Rhesus, the baby has no knowledge of his ranking in your family
group. They quickly learn that there is one primary caregiver. They learn from actions and
vocalization where each family member ranks in the household.
I have two Rhesus living with our family. Lucy came to us at two and a half years old. Mindy came
to us two years later at the age of four. Lucy and Mindy were both raised by other families. We do
not have any background on Lucy. Mindy's family had problems with her and had to give her up.
Lucy accepted me as head of the family. As she got older and matured, she would not allow any
one else to get her out of the cage. She would bite other members of the family if they were close
enough to reach. She was very devious, sometimes luring my kids to her like she wanted to be
petted, and then grabbing and biting. She has never bitten me. As soon as her canine teeth began
to grow into dangerous weapons, we had them removed. We had her ovaries removed shortly after
her menstrual periods started. We saw a drop in aggression. But, Lucy had to figure out her rank
in our family. She has put herself just below me. Everyone else is lower and cannot control or
correct her. If they do they will be severely bitten. She will allow them to have a hug on occasion.
They realize at any moment she could take a movement they make as trying to control her and she
will turn on them. My husband is higher rank than the kids and if he calls them when they are
playing with Lucy, she gets mad at them.
Lucy will cuddle and groom me. She cries and wants me to spend time with her. I sit by her cage
every night and pet her while we watch television. I take her out side and let her play on a 25 ft.
long rope. She also plays in the outdoor cage.
Lucy is my monkey. She will protect me to her death. She knows when I yell at the neighbors dog
to get out of the yard, that I am upset. She would fight with no holds barred. She also knows that I
have to tell people to stay back if she is outside. Lucy in turn will bite strangers if at all possible. I
have to protect them. She is 23 pounds of muscle and teeth.
Mindy came from a home where the male head of the household held the highest rank. She made
it clear by biting that only he could control her. I met her and her family and brought her home.
Mindy submitted to me and let me control her. My husband wanted to be able to get her out so he
started bringing her outside when I took Lucy out. She did not object to his control. As the weeks
went on, Mindy felt she had to give control to only one person. I tried to put her into her cage and
she turned on me and bit my arm. My husband, who was sitting behind me, asked if I wanted him
to put her up. In a couple of seconds, I had to decide whether to fight or hand over control. I
handed him the leash and stepped out of the way. Mindy was ready to bite me again.
Mindy will allow me to pet her when she is in her cage, but I have to wait for a sign from her that
it is what she wants. If I just reach in to pet her when walking by the cage, she will bite me. The
kids are treated the same way. Strangers are met with aggression. My husband gets Mindy out and
plays with her. On a few occasions, she would bite him. He had to grab her and hold her down
while yelling, to impress on her that he was in charge. She always backs down to his threats.
The girls are in separate cages because of aggressive behavior towards each other. We have not let
them fight and settle who is dominant. They do have contact with each other, but only when they
can be separated when they start to fight.
The cages needed to contain them are 1/4 inch steel bars with 1 inch square steel corners. Mindy's
cage came with her and cost $750 custom built. Lucy's cage is a replica made by my husband for
$250 in materials.
When I wanted a monkey, I wanted a pet that could have the run of the house. I wanted a pet that
would fit into our lives and add enjoyment. I went to libraries and researched to try and find the
kind of monkey I wanted. There is not a lot of information out there, and what you do find does
not contain descriptive adult behavioral changes.
When I saw Lucy, she was so cute, cuddly, and little. I bought her on the spot. I was told she
would be a good family pet. Please before you can't resist the impulse, learn and educate yourself
If I had known adult macaque behavior, I would have waited for another kind of monkey. Mindy
arrived after Lucy has shown us adult behavior. We knew she needed a home and accepted her
knowing she was an adult with an attitude. They might not be perfect pets, but they are family. We
have to adjust to their behavior knowing they will not change. They are special in their own ways
and show their love for us everyday.
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Primate Menstrual Symptoms
Lucy was the cuddliest little baby when we got her. We didn't know her exact age. But she had her
baby teeth and seemed to be around two years old. She could be handled by everybody in the
family. My six year old could take her out of the cage and put her on a leash. My husband could
take her out and play with her and put her back with no problem. She was my special baby, I
would always tell her that.
During the first six months we had Lucy she started to change. At first she would nip the children.
My youngest, was the first to be challenged. Lucy went from nipping to putting on a bruising bite.
She quickly stayed clear of Lucy. My twelve year old, was next. She found out Lucy would turn on
her whenever she would correct or control her. This was totally unacceptable to me. I would
punish Lucy when she bit, I would grab the back of her neck and put her to the ground. Then she
went back into her cage. She knew I did not like that behavior.
I didn't have anyone to talk to about what was going on. I had read books about monkeys
behavior and dominance in primate family groups. I saw this happening in my living-room.
Around this same time I saw physical changes in Lucy. The area around her butt pads was getting
redder and swelling. Then we noticed her first menstrual period. It only lasted a couple of days.
She would behave better for two weeks afterwards then start biting every chance she got. I kept
track of her cycle and saw her aggression directly related to the ovulation.
She was all teeth and nails for three weeks out of the month. I was the only one who could handle
her without getting bit. It was her choice, to her I was dominant. Everyone else in the house was
fair game. Kim was determined to interact with Lucy when I had her out on a leash. Lucy would
act like she would be nice until Kim got close then she would lunge and bite. I saw the scars from
the bites on her arms and legs and wondered what I gotten myself and my family into. Something
had to change.
I had talked with Lucy's vet about our problems. He said there was a good chance that having
Lucy's ovaries taken out would relieve a lot of the problem. Now I knew that Rhesus are at the top
of the list for aggressive behavior. I didn't know that when I bought Lucy, I found it out in later
research. We decided that the ovarectomy would give me some control back. Maybe without the
hormones Lucy could coexist with our family.
The effect of the surgery was slow. It took right around a year for Lucy to lose the physical
characteristics of a sexually mature female. As time went on she tolerated the girls more. They
could not control her but they could pet her and hand her treats and toys without being jumped.
Four years later Lucy is still aggressive when challenged. I am the only one that can get her out
and control her actions. She not hugs the girls, when she wants too, and lets them play with her.
I know that she may never to a pet that everybody can pick up and cuddle. We have to accept the
fact that these are not small humans. Sometimes we have to alter them physically to conform to
our expectations. Is it right or wrong? We have to decide if this is a choice we can live with.
Back to the Top
She was loving when she wanted to be. Her arms would wrap around you and you would feel the
strength of her muscular frame. With me she was obedient and submissive. There was mutual love
and respect. With others she chose when to give love and when she needed to show them who was
boss. Twenty-four pounds of fury, unleashed at you in an instant. Unpredictable, lightning quick,
and determined that nothing would stop her.
One of many attacks on my 15 year old happened so quick that even though I was three feet away,
holding the leash while watching, she managed to bite three times before I pulled her off. The bites
were meant to convey her power. She shook her head like a shark going after bait. My chills arm
was grabbed by her hands to ensure she could maintain her position and finish what she set her
mind to do.
People see the macaques as infants and quickly fall in love. To me there is nothing cuter than that
little body with a head so big it looks like it might fall over. The big protruding ears, the warmth in
the eyes, the little wrinkled mouth. It is hard to resist.
The public needs to be aware what a couple of years of growth and maturity unleashes. The infant
macaque will love and play with everyone in the family. But natural inborn dominance will soon
become apparent. If young children are in the household, they will become the first target. The
macaque quickly senses the child is submissive to the parents wishes and the child is the weakest of
the human family.
A macaque must dominate everyone it can. It is their nature. In the wild it is survival. It is born
into them, wild or captive raised.
They have a high intelligence and are masters of perception. They can read your expressions, and
understand the inflections of voice.
A child who is reprimanded and scolded is seen as an easy step up the ladder where dominance is
the goal. The macaque will start it's aggression by threatening the child by using facial expressions.
This usually happens during a confrontation between parent and child. With time, the macaque
will feel the need to confront the child on it's own. It will happen quickly, perhaps by the child
taking away a toy or possession the macaque is playing with. The first show of force may be a slap
or a pinch. Or it may be a quick bite. When the adult steps in and tries to correct the behavior, the
macaque will try and maintain their position over the child again, either physically or by facial
signals. The child scared by the attack, will no doubt back off. This is quickly sensed by the
macaque and feeds the passion for power. They will sense they have won the first round.
The aggression will escalate. Each confrontation ending with increasing injury to the victim. The
reaming members of the household will be sized up and in time will become targets as well. Only
one person will be seen as an Alpha. A protector, a leader, higher in rank than the macaque. The
macaque chooses who will attain this status.
These strong willed primates will take on everyone and anything seen as a threat to their position
in rank. They will fight until injured near death. They will protect their Alpha human anytime they
sense a threat. They will take on any opponent.
They are dangerous, and like a ticking bomb, they can and will explode!
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CAPTIVE HEARTS TO OUR PROVIDING HANDS:
I have written articles in the past that gave me great pleasure. Passing on my personal experiences,
and information I have gained on monkeys, is a challenge. I enjoy the thought that others might
learn something from my words. With so little information available to owners of primates I feel
the more we share, the more we all can benefit.
When I was asked to write Lucy's story I felt a huge conflict inside. I knew it should be written but
I also knew it would cover the hardest topic I could ever pull from within. My love for primates
pushed me to put down on paper a fact I had never faced publicly.
My statements are sometimes intense. The descriptions are graphic. You might be tempted to put
this down and find "lighter" reading material. Please understand, I had to write this in a way that
it would convey to you a powerful message.
If only one primate owner who reads this changes their way of thinking, I feel it was worth writing.
If one primate is spared agony, my countless tears are not in vain.
I wish someone would have told me before it was to late.
Lucy, a two and one half year old Rhesus Macaque, was eating Purina High Protein Monkey
Chow when she came to live with us. We supplemented her diet with fresh fruit and vegetables. I
gave her bread, cereal, rice and pasta. She also received treats, some were not as well liked as
others. Her favorite was salsa and tortilla chips. She loved tomatoes. Anything with tomatoes,
ketchup, spaghetti sauce, spaghettio's, tomato soup, vegetable soup with tomatoes. Garden fresh
cherry tomatoes were at the top of her list. She loved to eat fresh garden salad with red French
Eight months after she came to us she had stomach problems. Our vet did an exploratory surgery
and found a huge hairball. It filled her whole stomach and traveled eighteen inches into her
intestines. He had to cut her stomach in half to remove the compacted ball of hair. After the
surgery and a soft diet for a few weeks, Lucy refused to eat her monkey chow.
I added beans and peanut butter to give her protein. I also bought protein tablets as a supplement.
The rice, pasta, and bread she ate gave her carbohydrates. She took children's vitamins with iron
Her breakfast was cereal with milk or dry. Lunch was usually vegetable pasta soup. She ate rice or
pasta, vegetables, and beans for supper. In the evenings when we sat with her she ate snacks.
Popcorn, potato chips, corn chips, tortilla chips, and of course something tasty as a dip.
She gained weight steadily as she matured into an adult. Her activity decreased. I was not
concerned about it, I thought adults just settle down. I never thought that there might be a
medical problem developing.
Lucy began to get small bumps on her hands and forearms. They were spreading in size and
quantity. A biopsy was taken and sent to Yerkes Center for Primates for analysis. The report gave
a scientific name and also said these were often seen in primates with high cholesterol levels. Her
diet gave her to much fat and cholesterol. She had been getting too much junk food. Five years
had passed, and bad feeding habits had slowly developed. By this time a major problem was about
to be revealed.
One evening I returned from work to hear Lucy had been vomiting. She couldn't even hold down
water. The next morning she did not move around as usual. She just laid in her box. I knew she
was feeling allot of pain. I took her to our vet hoping to find a cause. After an exam and x-rays of
her abdomen there were still no answers. He thought it might be a case of constipation. He was
unsuccessful at giving her an enema. I was told to give her a laxative when I took her home.
She quit vomiting and could hold down fluids but would not eat. She flinched when I tried to hold
her. Three days later she was still in pain. She could not lay down, she would not climb. She just
sat in one place for hours. I handed her food but she would not eat. I called the vet and he was at a
loss for an explanation. He suggested an exploratory surgery.
I assisted by holding the anesthesia mask on her face as he made his incision. I watched as he
examined her organs. He found nothing wrong. He massaged her stomach thinking she might have
a foreign object inside. A dark brownish black substance gushed out of her nose and mouth. I was
frantic as I tried to wipe it away and clear her airway. He said it must have come from her
stomach, but didn't know what it could be. Whatever it was I knew she could aspirate it into her
lungs. I kept wiping it away as he closed her incision.
Despite the postoperative antibiotics Lucy developed infection. There was also massive tissue
trauma after the surgery. Ten days later the wire sutures were removed. Her incision should have
been healed but instead started to split open again. At first it was a half inch opening, oozing
blood. Then it opened further to an inch long gap. We went back and were told it had to be
checked under anesthesia and closed again. As soon as she was asleep he put his fingers in the
opening and probed. I stood in horror as the whole incision split open. Inside there were areas of
clotted blood and adhesions. He removed all he saw and sewed and wired her incision closed again.
She was in allot of pain, her appetite was gone. She was put on a stronger antibiotic and given
Winstrol to improve her appetite. I was really getting worried. Three weeks had passed and she was
losing weight rapidly.
The second surgery left her with massive bruises and abnormal amounts of swelling around the
incision. Her incision bled and oozed. The wire sutures tore through the skin as the swelling
increased. Another week passed with no improvement. Her abdomen was still swollen, the incision
oozing blood. There was a pungent smell present that turned my stomach.
I had been in contact with Lisa R. Whiteaker at S.N.O.W.C.A.P. through all of Lucy's illness. I
tried to relay to her every detail. She made a conference call and we talked with her vet, Dr.
Whipple on a couple of occasions. Questions arose in my mind during and after our talks and my
vet did not have the answers. Dr. Whipple, Lisa, and I agreed Lucy was going downhill. I knew her
condition was serious and my vet was not helping enough. Lucy needed to see another vet. Dr.
Whipple was in Las Vegas and I was in Ohio. Lisa R. Whiteaker offered her home and assistance if
we wanted to fly there. I knew Dr. Whipple had experience with primates and was the one to see so
Lucy and I flew out the next day.
Lucy's incision had opened more than an inch during the flight. Lisa was shocked when she saw
with her own eyes what I had tried to describe to her. She wasted no time calling Dr. Whipple and
having him meet us at the clinic. It was past midnight but their concern was only for Lucy. Dr.
Whipple cut away the sutures tearing the skin next to the gaping hole. With the pressure released it
grew larger. He took a culture swab of the incision to be sent off to the lab for testing. Lucy was
weak after the flight and we were sent to Lisa's till the next day.
In the morning we returned and Lucy was taken into surgery for the third time. Dr. Whipple tried
to draw a blood sample but her blood vessels were collapsing. Her gums were white, she was very
anemic. Dr. Whipple had her scrubbed and prepped then he opened the incision. He found massive
amounts of clotted blood and adhesions. The horrid smell of dead tissue filled the air. It took three
hours for him to remove the clots, adhesions, and cut away dead tissue. He then flushed her
internal organs with an antibacterial solution to inhibit further infection. She was closed again, but
this time with proper sutures reinforced in a manner that would hold the incision and not damage
the healing tissue. The lab results arrived and showed the type of infection invading her body was
resistant to the antibiotics she had been receiving. She was given the proper antibiotic and also
medicine for pain. Bandages in place we were sent to re-cooperate at Lisa's for two weeks. We saw
Dr. Whipple for daily checks of her incision, and a bandage change.
Her first surgery produced no answers, only five weeks of suffering. Finally Lucy's incision showed
signs of healing. I was elated had loss. She was thin and weak. All this time without eating more
than a couple of bites of food a day as the healing process taking place. As the swelling decreased I
realized how much weight she had loss. She was thin and weak. All this time without eating a
couple of bites of food a day.
I worried because her first problem had never been discovered. As the complications developed we
expected her to lose her appetite due to the pain, the antibiotics, the decreased activity. But now
she was healing, moving around some and should be eating. She would turn away from food most
of the time. Sometimes though, she would grab handfuls and fill her pouches. Then I would watch
as she slowly spit it back out. Why? We bought anything we thought might stimulate her appetite.
She would take a bite or two at the most. She was not taking in enough to sustain her weight. We
stood helplessly by as she kept losing more each day.
Two weeks after her third surgery her sutures were removed. The incision healed leaving only a
thin line of scar tissue behind. We left for home, hoping for the best.
Lucy seemed indifferent to her return. We had hoped her familiar surroundings would give her
security and she could finally relax and get her appetite back. Instead she became weaker and very
depressed. Maybe she had become use to being with me twenty-four hours a day. At Lisa's she was
never caged so we could supervise her and keep the incision covered. Now she was in her cage and
I had returned to work. I spent every minute I had off with her. She would sit on my lap, or lay
beside me. She didn't play, she seldom got down and walked around the room.
Two weeks later her weight and strength were still declining. Three bites of food a day at the most.
She loved milk, but would take only a couple of sips. I offered Ensure and she took half an ounce
at the most.
I could feel her bones when I held her. I had a very strong feeling that she was going to die. What
was happening? Why couldn't someone give me an answer? What more could I do? I felt helpless
and emotionally I was out of control. I was so angry. Angry that my attempts to help her were
futile. Angry that she was losing her will to live. Her eyes showed me her love of life had left. She
could not tell me what to do, what was going on inside. I gave her my love, but it was not enough.
The tears I cried as I held her were all I had left to give.
I had been talking to Lisa everyday since our return. I tried to explain to her that we were fighting
a losing battle. She gave encouragement and advice. Finally I said out loud what I felt, Lucy was
dying. I wanted to fly her back to Las Vegas to Lisa. Maybe she and Dr. Whipple could do
something, anything, to keep Lucy alive. I would be driving out and I knew Lucy could not make
the trip with me.
I put Lucy on the plane and headed out to meet her. I kept in contact with Lisa every two hours to
check on Lucy's arrival and her condition while she was there. One phone call gave me the news I
will never forget hearing. Lucy had taken her last breath before I could join her.
Lisa held her in her arms as her ulcerated stomach spewed forth a large volume of blood. It was
over in a matter of seconds. Lucy's fight ended and she was finally out of pain.
We did not have an autopsy done. I could not have her cut open again. The massive blood that
came out of her nose and mouth when she died was dark brownish black. The same substance that
had come from her stomach during her first surgery. Three doctors agreed that she had large
ulcers that had burst and hemorrhaged leading to her death. These ulcers had been present for a
long while. They had been the cause of her pain and stomach problem at the beginning. All the
surgery and the resulting stress had caused them to grow larger. The use of Winstrol while the
ulcers were present also added to the process.
Too late I learned that Macaques are prone to developing ulcers. We had given her foods that her
stomach could not tolerate. We received pleasure watching her eat the foods she loved while inside
her body these same foods ate at her stomach. My ignorance of the importance of a proper diet
had contributed and led to her premature death.
If I could go back in time knowing what I do now, I would overcome my desire to give my Lucy
anything she wanted. But hindsight won't bring her back to me.
To you who have monkeys, I offer all I have left. Advice from knowledge I learned too late.
Proper nutrition in ALL primates is very important. Foods as close to their natural state as
possible are the best. Grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, these along with monkey chow should
be their daily diet. An occasional bit of "our" foods won't harm them. But we must give them
what they need. They are dependent on us to provide a proper menu.
Vet care (by a vet knowledgeable in primates) can guide you so your primate has the best chance
at a healthy life. He will also know their anatomy and recognize symptoms and know the possible
causes. The care required by an ill primate is complex. Not all vets are educated in the treatments
and techniques required for recovery.
Education and Information on all aspects of primate care is invaluable. When we take these
captive hearts into our lives we take on a huge responsibility. Their lives are in our hands.
Please let your hands provide the very best. My hands failed, and I will live the rest of my life
wishing I could turn back time.
I cannot end without expressing my gratitude to Lisa. Because of her intervention Lucy had the
best care possible during her last month with us. Lisa invested her time, money, emotional support
and more as she fought with us to help Lucy survive. When the end was near she spoke words of
comfort as she took Lucy into her arms. Her love and compassion surrounded Lucy's spirit as it
parted from this earth. In my mind I know Lisa loved Lucy as her own, in my heart I know Lucy
sensed the special bond they had formed.
YOUR ARMS, YOUR WORDS, YOUR LOVE, YOUR TEARS, YOU GAVE IN PLACE OF
MINE. I DID NOT ASK, BUT YOU BECAME,
HER "MOM" FOR A SHORT TIME.
thank you isn't enough, you gave her so much
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Important Factors using a Collar or Harness
Primate ownership carries with it a huge responsibility. Safety of the primate, and those who may
have contact with the primate when it is out of its cage, must be a priority.
I recommend all uncaged primates wear a harness or collar and a leash. This gives control of the
primates actions to whom ever accepts the responsibility of releasing the primate. With proper
taming and training techniques most primates will allow a collar or harness to be put on and a
leash attached before exiting the cage. I do however, realize there are those who bolt and run
whenever the cage door is opened. Owners of the "bolting" primate may decide to leave a harness
or collar on the primate 24 hours under supervision to get the primate use to wearing a harness or
collar. Primates will soon learn the harness or collar is a part of them and won't become afraid,
instead trust you and we have been told they won't bolt out of the cage.
A Harness or Collar worn inside of the cage creates a potential problem if it becomes entangled or
hooked on the cage or its contents. I recommend training and behavior modification techniques be
applied instead of the 24 hour collar or harness.
I do feel it is necessary to address another potential problem seen in primates wearing their
collar/harness 24 hours a day.
When these primates are bathed their collar or harness remains wet and the underlying skin does
not dry out. Bacteria grows and the skin cells deteriorate. The constant rubbing of the wet collar or
harness quickly chafes the stressed skin. If this area is not given proper care the condition
escalates. I have seen cases where the Collar or Harness has cut deep into the skin. The infection
along with the friction applied creates a nasty incision requiring prompt medical attention.
For those owners who feel a 24 hour collar or harness is necessary I recommend the following
guidelines be followed: Purchase a collar or harness used only when bathing your primate. After
bathing thoroughly dry the area and reapply a clean dry collar or harness. If you use a collar or
visa versa you might want to bathe using a harness so you have full access to the covered area. All
areas that come in contact with the harness or collar should be inspected for signs of chafing or
skin developing sores. The collar or harness should be clean at all times. Regular washing and
disinfecting will reduce bacteria growth. Having more than one harness or collar available allows
you to rotate use easily. Check the fit of the collar or harness when you apply it to your primate.
If you should notice your primate tugging or scratching at any area around the collar or harness
immediate inspection is necessary. If you should notice a peculiar smell around the collar or
harness remove it and inspect thoroughly and seek veterinarian help.
Our primates comfort and health must be given priority. The time and expense spent to ensure
both is our responsibility as primate owners.
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Holidays and Your Primate
Winter is fast approaching and our primates health during these months requires constant
attention. The holiday season brings with it an abundance of new and different situations. There
are special holiday foods and holiday decorations. I would like to first address areas of concern
when our primates are in close proximity to a room typically adorned for the holiday season.
A Christmas tree with all of its colors and lights is a major attractant for our monkeys. The lights
beckon them, and few can resist. Quick hands can pull light bulbs and into the mouth they go. The
fragile glass will fair poorly in contact with powerful jaws. Ornaments and hooks can cause injury
in many ways. The obvious of course is glass from broken ornaments. Their hooks can be
dangerous choking hazard and also cause punctures when placed in the mouth.
Extension cords plugged into a wall outlet with the receiving end available can cause serious burns
if placed in the mouth.
Garland and tinsel can cause intestinal blockage is digested.
Mistletoe and holly berries are known to be toxic as well as chrysanthemums, Christmas rose, and
The above are just a few of the potentially dangerous items that will tempt our primates.
Be aware and especially alert when your monkey is out and about. Preventive measures to limit
contact with decorations can save needless medical emergencies.
The next issue is one that many consider trivial. "Holiday Treats." Our monkeys being part of our
families, are often included in our holiday gatherings. Family members and visitors enjoy giving
"special" treats in return for the joyous sounds of pleasure our monkeys vocalize. This over
abundance of non-nutritional food can cause poor appetite for regular diet as well as digestive
upsets. I know it's not easy to resist begging hands and mournful cries but long term health is
more rewarding than momentary satisfaction. Limit the quantity of treats and keep in mind their
The chill of winter, whistling winds and cloudy skies. Weather to stay indoors in warm, cozy
rooms. We must be aware of our monkeys need for vitamin D3 which they can get from natural,
unfiltered sunlight. Special lights can replicate sunlight and allow the monkeys body to synthesize
D3. This is necessary for proper utilization of calcium.
Another concern in conditioned, heated air is the lack of humidity. Humidifiers are a MUST! They
are vital yet inexpensive additions to our monkeys habitats.
We owe it to our monkeys to provide them with a safe and healthy environment. Lets not forget in
the hustle and bustle of the holidays to keep their well-being in mind. They depend on us with their
Enjoy the holidays with your monkeys, give them the gifts of love, affection and attention. They
will in return reward you with the same.
I wish only the best to you and yours in the coming year.
All preceding articles are written by: Karen D. Gill. These articles may not be copied without the
permission of the author.
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