Information on Primates in the Private Sector 

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Tooth Removal    Other Alterations     Open Wounds & Self Mutilation    
Hazards     Diarrhea Info     Shock Collars      Lifetime Commitment


My words are in black text.

Open Wounds & Self Mutilation

Question: "Does anyone have any advice on his ingrained habit of picking at a sore on his body 'til its bloody? I know it has to hurt, but he won't let us touch that part of his foot... Also, he loves giving himself a thorough rubbing with fresh onion - is this ok and are there other comparable "scrubbers"? 

Open sores are a tough one....... I am not sure what to recommend for a monkey that is not able to be handled, hopefully Tim might be able to help you on this one!!! It sure sounds like you've made a good decision. But it also appears as though you've got your work cut out for you. 

Tim's response:
Self mutilation is common in animals under stress or just down right unhappy. Sometimes it can take years to correct. 

We've had this problem come up in some animals that were placed here. It takes more effort than cramming for the finals in law school : ) 

We've found three methods that work so far. 

The first is radical and we've never used it, but we've gotten animals that have experienced it. We do not believe in it but it does end up saving the animals life in the long run. Medical intervention. You must always guard against infection to start with in any thing you do! If you can't stop his picking, you may have to remove that part and continue to remove parts until you reach an area he can no longer pick at it. Like I said, unacceptable to us here but it has been done to save the animals life.......... but at what expense? Remember the black male Spider monkey Lefty? Now you know how he got his name. We were told when we got him, it started out as an infection in the finger that through time ended up in him having his entire arm removed. I don't think we could have made that decision, but it did save his life and he appears not to be any worse the wear for it. 

The second method is one we've had to use. Physical restraint. There was a funny post previously about straight jackets ......... believe it or not, we have one and it does work! You must prevent your little guy from picking at himself until he is 100% healed and insure through stimulation he never starts to pick at it again. We've even had to duct tape a monkeys arm behind it's back to stop it from chewing on it's own finger until it was healed. 

The third method is environmental stimulation. Install puzzle feeders, swings, noise making toys, mirrors, play music when your not at home, or leave the TV on, or get him a companion ... etc. etc. Environmental stimulation is the least reactive and requires 100% of your time, 100% of the time. It could take years. But you need to turn his attention to something else. He'll never forget his picking, but if the area heals you'll have a much better chance of not getting an infection. Use a baby bottle with some juice in it to start a bond process. If he is imprinted to humans he'll show signs of coming around to you. Some will never bond with you but it's worth a try. Simply put you'll need to keep his mind off himself. That is one hell of a job and we wish you all the luck in the world! 

As to the rubbing..... oranges appeal to some capuchins, a cotton ball soaked in a bit of "Tea Tree Oil" is loved by my two brown capuchins (it also would be good for his sore as it is an antiseptic - made with natural ingredients), various foods that appeal to one capuchin don't necessarily appeal to another so just experiment with him 

Another Reply:
I adopted 2 sub-adult pig-tail a couple years ago, with many problems, They are brother and sister, Kira, the girl, being the oldest. Kunta, the male, has mutilation issues. I had not seen this in any of mine, so I just had to take the bull by the horns and figure it out for myself. For us, it is a continuing problem, but, it seems the most effective approach, is to get his mind on something else, and try and keep him occupied. He loves praise, so, I shower him with it until he gets so excited, he forgets his owie, then in usually a day, the wound is closed sufficiently for him to forget about it. I think prevention is the first step. To clean the wound, esp. if it is on the hand ( he is terrified of being held) I set a bowl of water, with antiseptic, on the bottom of the cage, under the grate they sit on, and let them play in it, usually re-filling it a couple x's until the wound is sufficiently cleaned. There are antiseptic washes out there with an agent to numb the wound, this helps take his mind off of it. Just thought I would add my 2 cents worth!
Bobbi Shackleford

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Shock Collars

"The shock thing that you said someone tried--is that the kind that is used for dogs--the shock collars they have for dogs, or is it a prod like what is used for cattle? I was under the impression, that even when they Did use the shock, that it was some type of collar. I wish there was some way that we could get to the bottom of all of this. Doesn't someone on this list know of an actual quadriplegic who has one? " 

Answers: I was hoping someone that is associated with HH would step in to clarify these things but ................... here is what I have found out. I gave a few educational presentations to USM at Gorham, Maine - the anthropology class (with Willow then Mookie) One of the college students had done a thesis on HH and gave me some of her information. She had very mixed emotions about the entire program after all her research. 

The electric shock item is a collar worn around the monkey's waist with the shock piece attached either to the tip of the tail or very near the end (I am not sure of which) The monkey is given a shock for every negative action they do. I have an article about it - I will see if I can find it and scan it for anyone who wants to read it. 

This student discovered many conflicting issues about the HH program, the idea itself is a worthy one. The actuality of it being successful has been questioned by some. It is very difficult to get any information directly from the program (I know, I tried several years ago) as to the percentage of successfully placed trained capuchins versus the number which were not appropriate candidates for placement in a home with a person with quadriplegia. I would like to know for sure myself more about their procedures and policies but have yet to find a way.............. 

Having worked with many people with disabilities I just need to say here that people are encouraged to write/or say "a person with quadriplegia", likened to saying a disabled kid versus a kid with a disability. The ramifications of labeling someone rather than applying the disability as a description has been discussed in a number of articles I read in regards to disabilities. Please don't take offense, I only mean to educate those who may not be as aware of the sensibilities of those who need understanding. 

Another Individual's Reply: I have a Helping Hands monkey... **** is going to be 9 years old this year.. It has been a long hard time with him as he is aggressive and dominating, and a very bad Biter.... 

Helping Hands is a wonderful program as the many quadriplegics who have these little monkey loves will gladly tell you.. I have many testimonials from them stating how the monkeys have changed their lives for the Better!!! The quadriplegics understand that they are monkeys and are prone to making some boo boo's.. But like us they love them in spite of that.. Its called unconditional love.. The actual HH manual... fully states their purpose and the manner in which they accomplish that purpose. My understanding is that it is always done with the love and comfort of the monkey in mind.. 

As for the electric shock.. my understanding is that they used to use a small shocker on the tail.. but have stopped that practice long ago. They use Praise, Rewards, and time outs.. to accomplish the goals they set for each monkey .. and each monkey is looked at as being unique in his/her own way... and we all know that this is very true. 

And don't try and tell me that we who live with these wonderful creatures have not shared a tidbit of food from them after they have scratched their butts or other parts, and didn't wash their hands..( bugs, sticks, toys, monkey chow : ) ) How many times have I heard you say that the little stinker took the food right out of your mouth and sat there and ate it.. 

The quadriplegics think it is just as cute and amusing as we do.. And forgive them for any mistakes they may make, just like we do.. The warm fuzzy feelings that we get from living with and interacting with a monkey are the same for them... 

HH's does not have all the answers to the problems we monkey folks encounter, nor do I see anyone here with all the answers. If we had them we would not be here asking questions, and looking for advice.... In the beginning I had only their advice to rely on, now I have the wonderful world of the internet to rely on for suggestions. I have in my opinion the best of both worlds. 

and another REPLY: Anyone can request a video for a donation of $15. HH has3 videos available "Wild About Animals," "The Extraordinary," and "Day and Date." They are all TV shows. Anyone can call HH and ask for Jean. The number is 617-787-4419 These show some monkeys in training and also a monkey aid that is placed with a quadriplegic You can always read more about HH at their web site also "Helping Hands Monkey Helpers for the Disabled" -  

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Diarrhea Info

Question: "need advice for a monkey with diarrhea" 

Diarrhea is not normal and usually black means blood - don't panic because sometimes getting a hold of some green plants causes a black looking color. Try a little pepto bismol is you have it. Here is the quote from the Primate Care Handbook: 
"Simple Diarrhea: Keep well hydrated (with an electrolyte solution for human infants such as
Pedialyte or Gatorade) and administer Pepto-Bismol three times a day in the following dosages: 
Under 2 lbs. (<1 Kg) give 1 ml 
2-5 lbs. (1-2 kg) give 2 ml 
5-12 lbs (2-5 kg) give 4 ml or 1/2 tablet 
12-22 lbs. (5-10 kg) give 8 ml or 1 tablet 
over 22 lbs. (>10 kg) give 16 ml or 2 tablets. 
if diarrhea persists after 24 hours, consult your veterinarian. With young monkeys (i.e., babies and juveniles) and Callitrichids, consult your veterinarian if diarrhea continues after 8 to 12 hours. 

Another Individual's Reply: I have been reading some posts on "runny poop" and felt compelled to reply. 

Diarrhea is a symptom and not usually the illness that causes the diarrhea. But of course, it can and quite often kills. So, in my opinion, to just treat the "runny poop" without finding out what caused it is leaving yourself wide open for something else to happen later on. 

Lets look at what has happened to this little guy in the past week or so............. 

New home............... 
New cage............... 
New people............. 
New companion.......... 
Different foods........ 
Different water........ 
Teeth extraction....... 

Tons of things to cause stress to say the least and stress can be a killer as well! 

Is the animal acting normal? (what's normal) 
Is the animal drinking? (most important with diarrhea) 
Is the animal active? (or just laying around) 
Is the animal running a fever? (possible sign of infection) 
Is the animal eating like the others? (change of foods can cause "runny poop" or maybe eating some bug) 
Is the animal showing signs of pain (during movement or cramps) Tons of things can cause diarrhea.
Color does mean a lot and as some have implied, "black" can be a sign of blood in the stool. Our recommendations are to treat the diarrhea with something that will slow it down and not "bind" the animal up with an overdose. One can be as bad as the other. Continue to observe and if anything appears to be just not right, then take your guy to the Vet's ASAP. As Rick suggested, 48 hours is about the limit in waiting time on adult animals before reacting. 

Here's another problem .............................. 

I see many new animals going to homes here almost every day now. NOBODY is quarantining these guys. The new ones can carry things you've never heard of and still we continue to put them straight into the cage without any worry. Not to mention, your animals can infect the new member (which is more often the case due to stress) with things that your old guys have become immune to. 

PLEASE EVERYONE........... CONSIDER THIS ............. 

Quarantine is always the best policy! 30 days is good! 60 days is much better. It doesn't mean you love them less, it means you'll be able to love them longer! And always remember to wash your hands and also wash your clothing before interacting with your established little guys. 

One more thing....... is the animal on antibiotics? Diarrhea is the bodies way of getting rid of
something that just ain't right. An "OD" of antibiotics can cause black stools! Also consider if your little guy is on antibiotics, supplement the diet with some plain yogurt to keep the digestive track working. 

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Teeth Again 

The following is the opinion of The Wise Monkeys and is not intended to create a "flame" war, but if it does, we've got tons of matches to help if needed. 

We feel the total extraction of any animals teeth or what ever is unacceptable! 

We do understand some who need to extract some teeth and we respect their decisions to do so. But we see no need to extract any teeth beyond the "K-9"s" forward for ANY REASON! 

K-9 removal or blunting in males, in our opinion, is acceptable as the K-9's are weapons used
for self defense. If these animals were in the wild it would be a major (life or death) issue. But as we are not speaking of animals in the wild, and ONLY if you are committed to your animal for the rest of it's life and you've consider all the other ways to correct a biting problem, then and only then do we feel it is acceptable to alter the animal. 

Key words here are "commitment for life" and "biting problem". 

I know of some whom have never really had direct long term contact with an animal and the first thing they did was pull all the teeth. What's with that? The animal never had a chance to show what it was all about. Yet the teeth were torn out to justify the "HUMAN" concern. My opinion is that person should not have gotten the monkey in the first place! 

Please don't tell me the animals "gums" will tuffen and all will be hunkey dorey. That's BS! Remove your teeth and then tell me it's hunkey dorey. Your "grandma" did just fine? Go ask "Granny" if she regrets the loss of her teeth? I think you'll find she'll blow that excuse out of the water. 

I guess I really shouldn't have entered this subject, but now that I did, let me just qualify (simply) our position ....... 

If you pull your animals teeth ........ that's your problem and you must justify that action not to me, but to your animal! 

If your committed to your animal for life and live each day in proof of that, you've got my respect, 100%, even though I may not agree with you. 

If you've tried all you can to alter the behavior over an extended time, not a week or a month, then we will understand your decision to alter and respect you for doing what you could not do otherwise, that's being able to care for your animal for life with an elevated quality of life for your animal through social interactions with you the human and social interactions with other cage mates. 

We have had to alter very aggressive males here because they were tearing the others in their troupe up, not the human. Many stitches later the decision is made to blunt or remove the K-9's. But that's all that has been done. As with some humans, there are just some who are nasty and not willing to be considerate of others. 

I've got a yard full of monkeys who's previous owners said "I'm committed for life to my monkey" then snatched the teeth out to only find out later for what ever the reason they had to get rid of the monkey ............. To me that's not commitment. Thank god we have sooooooooo many of these toothless animals as we are able to pair these toothless guys up, rather than putting them into a dangerous situation of being in with other animals with full sets of teeth. 

One of the most important considerations to factor into a person's decision making process with any "alteration" (be it physical or emotional) done to a primate they live with, humans included is education and time!!! Take TIME, lots of it (months, even years), to explore every avenue possible before making an irreversible alteration to any creature. I am sure that all of us would think long and hard about having our children, or other relatives have any surgical operations, before making a final decision. We ask for professional opinions, second and third (or more) opinions from doctors, and we speak to as many people as we can find who have had a similar situation. We listen to all the varying experiences, weigh them carefully, search our souls for inner philosophy and THEN, and only then do we put our decision into action. 

I think the same should be and is being done with the primates in our care. I see new people asking great questions, seeking input from others. I see the "old timers" so willing to share their own experiences, whether they are good or bad. This shows how lucky we all are to have this means (our computers) to share our thoughts. I can only hope that we continue to reach more and more "primate" people. As always it is our monkeys/apes who ultimately reap the benefits of this forum.

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More On Alterations

I have been reading various posts recently regarding surgical sterilization, primarily gonadectomies (i.e., castration and "spaying"), in pet primates. Basically, it appears that most people are under the impression that these procedures somehow alleviate or eliminate some of the perfectly natural behaviors exhibited by primates in captive situations (e.g., aggression, courtship displays, copulatory activities, and of course, masturbation). I am a little disturbed that such procedures are being recommended to folks who may be new on this list-serve and have not opted as of yet to have anything done to their monkey. Also, there seems to be the misconception that such procedures which "sometimes" helps with domesticated animals (often times short-lived) applies to non-domesticated primates (usually longer-lived) . I have presented some of the following information on this topic before, but for the benefit of new people I will do so again. I also want to state that the following is NOT being based on personal experience or anecdotal information, but on studies performed by researchers in laboratory situations. Therefore, I feel that the results do merit some consideration. 

In the publication entitled HOUSING, CARE & PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL BEING OF CAPTIVE & LABORATORY PRIMATES (edited by Evalyn Segal) there is a section discussing castration, primarily as a means of reducing or controlling aggressive behavior by Eric Salzen ('89). This particular study involved three adult male squirrel monkeys and three juvenile males who were castrated. It was found that the juvenile males, upon reaching maturity, did not engage as often as their intact counterparts in penile displays, but that there was no significant differences in aggressive behavior. 

Adult males who were castrated showed no significant changes in behaviors other than when it came to copulation (courting and mounting took place, but no intromission). In addition, it was noted that in one of the juveniles and in one of the adults which were castrated, that there was the development of large lipomatous (fatty) lumps over the body and limbs, possibly as a result of their physiology being disturbed. It was also alluded to that castrates may be more susceptible to gallstones, especially if on a high-cholesterol diet. 

Within this same chapter a reference was made to a study by Loy, Keifer, et. al. ('84) involving castrated rhesus macaques. This study indicated that castrated males appeared to be MORE aggressive than non-castrated males, and that their mounting behavior was directed more to other males. 

This sub-section of the chapter concluded with "...therefore, these results do not recommend infant castration as a husbandry practice to control aggression in primate species." 

As for ovariectomy or ovariohysterectomy i.e., spaying, in female NHPs, I personally have been unable to find a lot of information on this topic. It effects me personally as I have two female capuchins which, due to health reasons, had to undergo complete hysterectomies However, I think that it is important to keep in mind that when this procedure is done that the monkey is almost immediately being forced into menopause. It is already known that in post menopausal human females that osteoporosis and heart disease can result later in life due to the lack of estrogen. Cognitive functioning and memory, degenerative eye disease, and colon cancer may also be related to menopause and the lack of estrogen. It only stands to reason that our non-human primate females may also suffer from some of the same conditions. It's logical to assume that in situations in which females are spayed at an early age (under ten years) that this could possibly increase their odds of suffering from some of these ailments since they are long-lived animals. I personally don't know when NHPs enter menopause, but it is definitely later in their lifespan than it is in humans. I know of female capuchins who are in their late 20s and still producing healthy offspring; a capuchin's average life-span is said to be around 32 to 35 years. So, when I hear of young females being spayed, it does concern me for their long term health. With NHPs, I am also more concerned re osteoporosis, since NHPs in captivity (especially in private hands) appear to already suffer more from bone-related conditions. Estrogen supplementation in female NHPs is iffy as no one really seems to know what is a correct amount to give. Estrogenic foods (tofu for example) have been suggested. Also, if you have a spayed female, make certain that she is receiving adequate amounts of calcium and vit. D3 (if NHP). 

Folks, just give a great deal of thought to what you are having done to your monkey BEFORE doing it! Once these type of procedures are done there is no going back. Also, most vets who perform these procedures don't know squat about long term effects of these procedures. 

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Lifetime Commitment 

I think right now is a good time to decide about how you are planning to fulfill your commitment to your monkey for the rest of it's life. There is a lot to consider here and I am still looking at options. 

I have altered *** by spaying her and removing her canines and plan to do the same for **** when she is older. I am serious about making a lifetime commitment, but at 47 there is a likelihood that *** and **** could out live me. 

Here's what I have established so far-- 

I plan to keep both my girls as long as I am alive and capable of providing proper care. Should either of them become unhandleable, I am committed to permanent caging at my home. The monkey room is 16'x7' and has barred openings that look into the kitchen/computer room area. There is also an outdoor 6'x6'x12' enclosure. There are some changes that would be needed to create double entries and lockouts for cleaning without going in with the monkey, but presently they are not needed. 

My daughter would be the executor of my estate. She knows my wishes about *** and ****'s future, but will not likely be able to have them live with her. The annuity money will initially go to her to distribute according to my wishes. 

I set aside $20,000 into a retirement annuity several years ago. If the monkeys out live me, that money and the interest it gains is to be used to provide for their lifelong care. If I out live them, I will have extra funds to enjoy in my old age. I'm looking forward to that!! Not losing my girls, but not having them lose me and having to live somewhere else. 

The question still undecided is where they will go? There is a private zoo near here that has many capuchins and good people who would make sure *** and **** get excellent care as caged monkeys. The funds that would go with them would provide for a proper enclosure, and provide for their needs.

I have heard of other placement options that I might consider as well. I have yet to have a will drawn up that specifies them. This is something I need to rectify soon. 

Ok, what plans do you have for the rest of your monkey's life? 

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I just want to share what happened the other day with *****. I have a comforter over his bedtime cage in our bedroom. (I never have hung a sheet or blanket on the inside) to block any draft that he may get from the register (ours are on the ceiling). I do not cover his cage but fold it back. Well he managed to tear a corner of it & wrap it tightly around his waist & in thru his diaper somehow. I had a hard time cutting him free, had to from the outside in order to reach him to get him out to cut around his waist. It was very tight, scissors barely fit. I was scared & crying. I was really shook, but all ended up fine, I Thank God that I was home & close by. The tightness around his waist was bad enough, I hate to imagine if it would of been his neck. The cover has come off & the register is now closed. I just wanted to share this incase it can prevent someone else from this happening to them. I still get teary eyed thinking about it. 

I am so thankful ***** was not fatally harmed. Your incident brings up an important issue in regards to monkeys and their surroundings. I know of people who have come home to dead monkeys from strangulation. Sorry to be so blunt but it is a real concern! These guys seem to have an uncanny ability to get into anything and everything possible. It is absolutely imperative to always be on guard with what you not only give your monkey to play with, but what they sleep with or even have within an arms reach. Venetian blind cords can be a killer. A thin string can be twisted tight enough to cut off circulation so as to have a finger, toe or even limb have to be amputated. Capuchins are famous for not being calm in an emergency situation, such as something around their neck. They do not stay still and wait for help, being the independent free-thinkers they are. They will twist and turn in an attempt to free themselves, usually only to tighten even worse that which is holding them. 

Murphy's Law (anything that can go wrong, WILL go wrong) is always in effect with our primates. So please, for their sake and your piece of mind, check every possible avenue your monk could take making sure the way is safe and secure. 

Ya want'a know about a breeder???????????? 

Call USDA. Ask for a copy of their inspection report ..... it's public information! Then you'll get a better look see into what your dealing with! It's free. Should be part of your investigative procedures when your thinking about the purchase of any animal! 

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