Unfortunately, in most states in America, you can order a baby chimpanzee for $50,000 over the Internet and have it delivered to your door. What the sellers don’t tell you is what the cute little chimpanzee the size of a cat will eventually turn into.
Chimpanzees can grow to 200 pounds, and stand at around five feet in height. Although this is smaller than the average human male, most of a chimpanzee’s weight is muscle. Chimpanzees are much stronger than the strongest human.
Chimpanzee breeders will tell you that violence by chimpanzees is freakish behavior, that with love and affection, chimpanzees can be tamed, and people who are injured by chimpanzees must have done something wrong. But the darker nature of chimpanzees cannot be bred out and is not something that goes away when they are raised as a beloved pet or a surrogate child.
Breeders will also say that more people are killed by dogs than by chimpanzees each year. This is true, but dogs have gone through thousands of years of domestication. Since they split from wolves 15,000 years ago, there have been major changes to their morphology, psychology, and temperament that make dogs ideal companions for humans.
There are over 75 million dog owners in the US. If 75 million people owned chimpanzees, there would be thousands of deaths each year, not the several dozen caused by dog bites.
If you buy a chimpanzee:
No one will insure you
Most homeowners policy will not insure you if you have a dangerous exotic animal, (this includes chimpanzees, monkeys, tigers, reptiles). Not only will you be personally responsible for any injury your chimpanzee causes to someone else, any damages your home and property will be uninsured in the case of fire, flood or burglary. Even if you can find insurance to protect you against liability, most of these have a cap of $100,000 – 300,000, and medical bills from a chimpanzee injury can run into the millions.
You will have to put them in a cage by the time they are ten years old
This is around the age chimpanzees go through adolescence. There will be occasional outbursts of violence that will injure someone, possibly you, a visitor to your home, or a small child (in one village in Uganda, six children were killed by chimpanzees). The most common chimpanzee injury is a severed finger, but chimpanzees have been known to bite off entire hands, testicles, feet, part of a face, etc. The chimpanzee will have to live in their cage, probably alone, until they die 50 years later.
Pdf: killer chimps uganda
They will cost approx. $500,000 over their lifetime
Even zoos and sanctuaries struggle to humanely care for and house chimpanzees. Besides vet bills, which are extraordinarily expensive for primates, there are your own medical bills. Chimpanzees share 98.7% of our DNA, and can therefore transmit all sorts of diseases, including SIV, HIV, Marburg, and Ebola.
Then there is the cost of constructing a cage/ facility outside or inside your home. In addition to their strength ( a chimpanzee can easily kick down the front door of a suburban home), chimpanzees are extremely intelligent. They can open doors, pick locks, and steel keys. The cage will have to be incredibly secure, with double doors, sophisticated locks, and reinforced steel bars. A cage the size of a laundry room can cost up to $20,000.
Eventually you will lose them
You will love your chimpanzee. Because they share so much of what makes us human, it will be impossible for you not to love them. And in return, they will love you. But chimpanzees are wild animals, whether or not they were born in captivity. You can’t convince them not to behave like chimpanzees.
Eventually, you will realize that keeping them in a cage for the rest of their lives is the worst kind of cruelty. Like us, chimpanzees are social animals. Many chimpanzees who are kept in isolation show severe psychological damage. They rock back and forth. They throw and eat their own feces. Sometimes they physically harm themselves.
You will then have to find somewhere that will take your chimpanzee.
If you are very, very lucky, you will find a sanctuary who will take them. There are only a handful of sanctuaries in the US where you would actually want your chimpanzee to live, and most of them are full to capacity
Zoos very rarely take pet chimpanzees. When a chimpanzee is raised by humans, they don’t learn how to be a chimpanzee. When they are introduced into a group of chimpanzees in zoo, they frequently beaten, occasionally to death. Zoos want to have a socially stable group, so they almost always reject chimpanzees who are human reared.
The most likely scenario is you will have to sell or give your chimpanzee to a backyard zoo or a biomedical facility. From your loving home environment, your chimpanzee will spend the rest of their lives in a cage, possibly abused and subjected to relentless medical testing.
Chimpanzees feel pain. They feel love and grief, just like we do. They have long memories. Seriously consider the consequences, not just for you, but for the chimpanzee you will raise like a child for a few years then abandon for the rest of its life.
A few pet chimps you might have heard of...
Travis was a former chimpanzee actor who appeared in advertisements for Old Navy and Coco Cola. Travis’ mother escaped from her facility and was shot in 2001. Travis was adopted when he was three days old by Sandra and Jerome Davis. Travis enjoyed watching baseball, and could drive a car and surf the internet.
In 2009, Travis attacked Sandra’s employee, Charla Nash. To try and save Charla, Sandra hit Travis with a shovel and stabbed him with a butcher knife. When emergency workers and officers arrived, Travis smashed into a police car, trying to attack the officer inside. The officer shot Travis several times. Police followed a trail of blood and found Travis. He had crawled to the back of his cage and bled to death.
Travis bit off Charla’s hands, her jaw, and most of her face. There were serious injuries to her brain tissue. Charla’s injuries were so horrific that hospital workers who treated her had to receive counseling. After seven hours of surgery, doctors managed to reattach her jaw, but Charla has no nose, lips, or eyes.
In 1967, the NASCAR racer St. James Davis rescued a baby chimpanzee from poachers in Tanzania. He called the chimpanzee Moe and brought him back to LaDonna, his girlfriend in California.
St. James and LaDonna got married, and since cancer left LaDonna infertile, they raised Moe as a surrogate child. He slept in their bed, watched cowboys and Indians on television, and learned to use a toilet. As Moe grew older, he started destroying the house, so he had to be confined in a ten-by-twelve-foot cage in the backyard. Trouble started. He mauled a police officer and bit the top off a woman’s finger. The authorities confiscated him and Moe ended up in an animal sanctuary in California for exotic pets who had worn out their welcome.
In 2005, on Moe’s thirty-ninth birthday, the Davises brought him a big raspberry cake with blue icing. As LaDonna cut the cake, she saw a teenage chimpanzee had escaped from his cage. The teenager was one of two Hollywood chimpanzees who had been surrendered by their trainer when they grew too big and aggressive to perform.
As the chimpanzee prowled toward her, LaDonna made a big mistake—she made eye contact. The chimpanzee slammed into her and bit off her thumb. As her husband pushed her out of harm’s way under the table, the second Hollywood chimpanzee appeared and joined in the attack on St. James.
They bit off his nose and nearly every one of his fingers. They gouged out his eye. They ripped flesh from his buttocks and left foot. They tore off his testicles.
The sanctuary managers came running when they heard LaDonna’s screams and shot both chimpanzees in the head.
St. James was nearly dead. After weeks in a coma and dozens of surgeries, his face is grotesque. There are two slits in his face where his nose should be and his mouth is a lipless, twisted line. A glass eye sits in an artificial socket.
The medical bills total over a million dollars and the Davises are locked in legal battles that will drag on for years.