To find a playgroup where your toddlers will be safe and well looked after is already a challenging task and finding one for your Capuchin pet monkey is next to impossible. Poppie Botes, owner of the “Queen of the Jungle” playgroup for monkeys is an animal lover in Johannesburg, South Africa who realised the need for this when she acquired two Capuchin monkeys of her own three years ago. At the time she owned a home industry shop and had to take her two children, as she calls them, with her where they were kept in a little cage. “Other people who also had monkeys for pets brought them to play with my three year old Amy and Kerneels because they get very lonely and need to be with their own kind,” she informed me. She then decided to start a playgroup where people could bring their Capuchin monkeys to spend the day. Poppie now has five monkeys that visit her playgroup every day of which the youngest is Jesse at five months old.
She converted a huge veranda at her home into a cage that is connected to an ever bigger cage outside by way of a wire pipe. Owners of these delightful little animals drop them off in the morning on their way to work and pick them up again at night, just like working parents with toddlers would do. She cares for these monkeys with patience and love as if they are little kids. In the morning they are fed a bottle of milk formula as well as baby porridge and for lunch they have cooked chicken, eggs, a sandwich and lots of raw fruit and vegetables during the day. They also drink fruit juices and tea and once a week are treated with sweets and cookies, not too much because they are prone to diabetes. At birthdays they have a birthday party with party packs filled with lovely goodies that they open and eat themselves.
There is a jungle gym in the outside cage with swings and toys where play and keep themselves busy all day long as well as a small pool where they can cool off in summer. “My toddlers need lots of attention and stimulation and I make sure they are entertained during the day,” she said. The cages are cleaned every day and kept in immaculate condition, because when one becomes sick, all of them do. They are treated for illnesses the same way as humans because being a primate they are very similar to us. Like any other kids they love toys and play for hours with stuffed toys and cars and every afternoon take a nap with a favourite blanket or soft toy.
Every night Poppie’s babies bath themselves and are fed a bottle of milk formula and put to bed wearing a nappy. Their bed is a specially adapted baby cot that stands in her bedroom next to her bed. They play for a while or watch television before falling asleep. “Our friends and family know that Amy and Kerneels are part of our family and treat them accordingly.”
Apart from them she also has an African Grey parrot, a Macaw parrot, four bearded dragons, four budgies, an iguana, five guinea pigs, five silky chickens, nine koi fishes, eight dogs and one cat!
Capuchin monkeys are extremely intelligent and can be taught to understand and execute instructions and commands.
Helping Hands, an organization in the US train these amazing animals to assist people with spinal injuries in their everyday lives. Watch this video for more information.
To have a Capuchin monkey as a pet is a lifelong passion, not just a passing fancy, because they can live for up to 45 years, and need lots of attention love and patience and require hard work. They have to be fed certain foods every day and be kept in a big cage to move around and play. However it is worth the effort since they are loving and affectionate little creatures.