Chimpanzees As Pets


Has it crossed your mind that having a chimpanzee for a pet would be pretty cool? A pet who looks like you would be cool. Chimps may seem like the ultimate pet but they are not. Unlike cats and dogs that have been bred purposefully to be our pets for hundreds of years, chimpanzees are wild animals that donít belong in human homes. Television has made us believe that chimpanzees are cute and cuddly creatures that are well behaved. This has made chimpanzees a very popular pet choice with people who can afford them. 


Chimpanzees in the pet trade are taken away from their mothers at a very young age, just like in the entertainment industry. Again, this is done so  the young chimpanzees will become dependent on humans for care. This will often have disastrous effects on the infant chimp. Chimpanzees will often stay with their mothers for many years, in this time the chimpanzee will learn many things from its mother, including the social skills needed to be able to interact with other chimpanzees. These skills will never be taught to a chimpanzee that is bought as a pet because they were taken away from their mothers at such a young age. Even if two chimpanzees are together in the same house, they may not know how to interact with each other because they never learned the social skills necessary for interacting with other chimps. Mother chimpanzees are there with their young all day, every day, which allows for constant stimulation. Humans cannot give this amount of care to an infant chimpanzee because of other obligations. This lack of stimulation leads to chimps that seek stimulation through any sort of behavior, including behavior that we consider destructive.


It may seem that chimpanzees will stay little and cute forever, this is not true. Many people who have chimpanzees as pets donít know that they reach puberty around the age of 6. It is at this age when they grow stronger and become more independent. It is also at this age when chimpanzees are subjected to mood swings, in which, one moment they are calm and the next moment they can become violent.  It is during the mood swings that owners are most likely to be attacked. Just like in the entertainment industry, when chimpanzees become too big and dangerous they end up in road side zoos and in laboratories. These chimps once had a life of dress-up and games but will now spend the rest of their lives in cages.


People also donít realize how expensive pet chimpanzees can actually be. Since Chimpanzees are wild animals they require a special diet, which you canít pick up from the local pet supply store. They also require a larger living space then the average pet and require special veterinary care. All of the unique needs of owning a chimpanzee as a pet can end up costing an average of 50,000 dollars per year! Take into account that chimps live upwards to 60 years and people are looking at a multi-million dollar pet.


The next time you see a chimp and wish you had one as a pet, remember the things that are written here. Chimpanzees are wild animals, not domesticated animals such as dogs and cats. They belong in the wild, free from human interactions. If you can remember only one thing from this remember: Chimpanzees do not make good pets.





Message from CAC'ers


While we were in Africa we saw chimpanzees in their natural habitat, doing natural behaviors. This is where chimpanzees should be and how they should be acting. Chimpanzees do not belong in our world, where they are mistreated and then thrown away like trash. Chimpanzees do not make good pets or good performers; they belong in the wild because they are wild animals.



Content provided by Canisius College students under the direction of Michael Noonan, PhD.