Justin Bieber Shouldn’t Have a Pet Monkey


Justin Bieber Shouldn’t Have a Pet Monkey
Justin Bieber’s pet capuchin monkey, Mally, was confiscated by German authorities after the pop star failed to produce the required paperwork for the exotic pet.

Wild animals, such as capuchin monkeys, do not make good pets, as a Humane Society spokeswoman reminds National Geographic News readers. So-called exotic pets are risks to the health of both the pet and the owner.

Capuchin monkeys are not domesticated animals and do not make good pets. They are also more likely to transmit disease, such as hepatitis and rabies.Photograph by Jason Kopp
Capuchin monkeys are not domesticated animals and do not make good pets. They are also more likely to transmit disease, such as hepatitis and rabies.
Photograph by Jason Kopp

Discussion Ideas:

  • Read our short encyclopedic entry on domestication. (The section on domesticating animals begins at the bottom of the first pages and continues to the second.) What are some domesticated animals that people keep as pets?
    • dogs
    • cats
    • some birds
    • horses
    • goats
    • guinea pigs
    • ferrets
    • some fish
  • Read our article “Wild Things,” which explains the dangers of keeping wild animals, as opposed to domestic animals, as pets. Can students name some differences between the responsibilities of keeping a domesticated animal as a pet and keeping a wild animal as a pet?
    • Nutrition: Wild animals often require a much more specialized diet, which can be expensive or difficult to obtain. Food for domesticated animals is usually much more widely available and relatively inexpensive.
    • Enclosures: Wild animals often require much larger enclosures than domesticated animals.
    • Health: Wild animals often require more immunization and other health precautions, because they carry diseases that may be transmitted to people.
    • Safety: Wild animals are much more difficult, and some say impossible, to train or tame. They may pose a threat to their owners or other people that come in contact with them. Apes and monkeys, for instance, are much stronger than people; aggressive or even roughhouse “play” may cause serious harm to human beings. Large exotic birds have strong beaks that can cause real injury.
    • Cost: Exotic pets are often much more expensive to support than domesticated animals. Specialized food, health-care, and safety precautions can cost tens of thousands of dollars a year.
    • Responsibility: Owning any pet requires responsibility—owners must make sure their pet has the proper diet and exercise, and is able to interact with people in a healthy way. However, the responsibilities of owning exotic pets is much greater, requiring more time, energy, and money. Many owners cannot handle the responsibility of caring for an exotic pet and abandon it, sell it, or donate it to a sanctuary. Watch our video, “Kobu the Lion.” This abandoned big cat ended up in an animal sanctuary, and faced new difficulties adjusting to that environment.
  • Justin Bieber owns a capuchin monkey, Mally. A chimpanzee, Suzy, keeps up with the Kardashians. Kristen Stewart is a wolf pack leader. Michael Jackson had an entire personal zoo, including Bubbles the chimpanzee, Little Michael the koala, and Muscles the boa constrictor. All these pets require special permits and paperwork, but they’re legal to own. Find your state on this map, and see what animals are restricted from pet ownership. Species of primates? birds? reptiles?
  • Why do students think celebrities or other people keep wild animals as pets?
    • status
    • desire for something different
  • Do students know anyone who owns a wild animal as a pet? What special care do their owners have to take?

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