Primates and Other Exotic Animals Don’t Make Good Pets

Work with Oakland Zoo and ARCAS to help sea turtles and other wildlife on this Eco-Trip.

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Zoo Wide

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Monkeys and Apes

Many of us love monkeys and apes. Their active behavior is fun to watch and their expressive faces draw us in. Small, newborn monkeys and apes can be even more charming. Sadly, some people take a love of these primates too far. Rather than admiring them in a natural habitat or at an accredited zoo, they choose to purchase monkeys and apes to keep as pets. Most make this choice without fully understanding the lifetime of care these species need, or the dangers and difficulties in caring for an exotic pet. The truth is there are many reasons why primate pets are not a good idea.

Gladys the Gibbon’s Story

Oakland Zoo has several primates who are surrendered pets and there are common behavioral problems that these animals face. One of them is our female gibbon, Gladys, pictured above. She was confiscated from a home in Texas. Like many hand raised primates, Gladys has trouble relating to others of her species. Gibbon mothers teach their infants the appropriate vocalizations, body postures and facial expressions that will help them communicate with other gibbons. Gladys was taken from her mother so young that she never had the opportunity to learn these important communication tools.

Thankfully, the male gibbon at Oakland Zoo has been very forgiving and has accepted her as his companion, however, her inability to communicate effectively in gibbon style has hindered their relationship and made her unpredictable and difficult to manage for her keepers who are nevertheless committed to giving her the best home possible regardless of her past.

Why It’s Bad for You

Why It’s Bad for the Monkey or Ape

Why It’s Bad for the Environment

What You Can Do