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Do not get a chimp folks. Unless you have a very specific facility, you will only be able to safely keep it until it reaches its teenage years. I want to preface this by saying that I'm not some sort of hippy. I love cheese steak and I eat it probably more than I should. I am a pet owner and I think it's fine to own pets.
Why are chimps bad pets? Many reasons. If you don't believe my list, read the one written by Jane Goodall (http://www.janegoodall.org/chimp_central/conservation/issues/as_pets.asp). It's slightly less graphic but basically the same, starting with the title "Chimpanzees Don't Make Good Pets." I don't know how much more clear she could be, but here we go.
I'm going to put this in the form of questions...
# 1. Would you own a rottweiler or a pitbull?
Chimps have between 2 times to 7 times the strength of a comparably sized human. They are strong enough to crush human bone with their bare hands and their bite is many times stronger than any dog's. Adult chimps are harder to manage and can be more aggressive than almost any trained dog. If you would not get a rottweiler, you should not get a chimp.
# 2. Are you willing to risk someone losing their eyes, hands, or worse?
Chimps are smart enough to maim. A chimp, unlike a dog or a shark, does not attack indiscriminately. Nor does it generally attack with the intent to kill, as does a lion or tiger. Chimps attack to cripple and damage. They are aware of and target sensitive spots of the body and destroy them irreparably and quickly. Their primary targets are the eyes, face, hands, and genitals. After they have destroyed these they tend to target the feet or the abdomen. I would recommend listening carefully to the CT woman's 911 call and pay close attention before you consider if you want the potential for that inside your home.
# 3. Are you okay with living with a cannibal?
Chimps are cannibals. A chimp is an animal that kills other primates, even unfamiliar chimps, and in many cases engages in cannibalism when it does so. A chimp is not a cuddly creature- it is an amazingly intelligent and aggressive omnivore. Think about a smarter, faster bear and you would be getting closer.
# 4. Are your neighbors okay with being attacked? Do they live far enough away to ensure their safety? (Maybe you should ask your neighbors first)
Chimps do not play well with other primates. For a chimp, there are two types of primates- ones like them and ones that aren't. Primates that aren't like them are killed out of territoriality or as food. Such "primates" could be your neighbors or their children. Even a minor scuffle with a chimp for someone outside your household could lead to them being permanently disfigured or killed. This is particularly an issue because it is extremely difficult to keep a chimp confined. Chimps are very good at escaping houses and cages, even those managed by trained professionals. NASCAR driver St. James Davis lost his face, hands, and genitals in an attack by two chimps in a sanctuary who escaped their cages.
# 5. Are you willing to let the chimp choose your social contacts?
Primates that are like them are subject to very complex social relationships that they will not be able to fully express to you. If you raise a chimp, it will come to love you. Love is a wonderful and dangerous thing. They may become violent in getting your attention and may also become overprotective. They may become jealous of your other familial relationships. Jealousy by an animal of this level of strength can lead to it attacking people you genuinely care about. This would result in the chimp being shot and the person being maimed or killed.
# 6. Are you willing to give them away as a teenager?
Thankfully, before the chimp generally hurts someone- you will have already seen the signs that it is hitting puberty. It will be more aggressive and more demanding. It will cause property damage. It will begin to masturbate in public. It will act in an aggressive manner to either friends or strangers. You will then have to give the chimp away or risk someone getting hurt. This will not be pleasant for you or the chimp. You will have formed a bond, there will be genuine attachment.
# 7. Can you live with the chimp being tormented from that point on?
The locations where you can give away a chimp are not great. You can give them to a research lab, where they will be experimented on, which no one wants. Or you can attempt to find them a chimp sanctuary which may cost money or have poor living conditions. The chimp, in turn, will miss you. It also will not have the proper social skills to interact with other chimps. If you be as traumatizing as you being raised by chimps and then thrown into a city. Since chimps tend to establish dominance and your chimp will probably be a teenager, it will get beat up a lot by other more established chimps.
If you answered No to any of these, don't get a chimpanzee. Get a dog, adopt a child, I don't care- but do not get a chimp.
Getting a chimp is a dangerous proposal, both for you and the chimp. The most likely scenario is that you get the chimp and realize that you are not ready to handle the responsibility of handling an intelligent, dangerous, and needy animal. At this point, you give them away to a sad and unfamiliar life and they never understand why you have abandoned them. A chimp is not like a dog. It does not just forget and move on. It remembers its "family" forever.
The problem is, there is no place for an adult chimp in a human family. Humans live in a world with great levels of social contact and responsibilities that use much of our time. A chimp will only get to deal with its owners. This competition for attention, combined with the natural aggressiveness of an adult chimp, is a very dangerous situation. It is dangerous not only to yourself but to your neighbors and to anyone who visits your home.
Think of it this way. If chimps make such good pets, why do no primate specialists have any as pets? Canine specialists own dogs. Specialists in some other monkey breeds own monkeys. Specialists in chimps do not own chimps. Please take this warning to heart and do not get a chimp.