How to Keep a Chimp as a Pet

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Chimps are difficult pets. Although cute as babies, they become 100 lb. apes five times stronger than humans. Chimps are intelligent, willful and aggressive. A full-grown chimp will climb your curtains, overturn your furniture, dump out the refrigerator and then bite off one of your fingers if you try to discipline him. But if you have plenty of extra time, money and fingers, consider these steps.

  • Feed your chimp commercial primate food for a balanced diet. Your chimp will also eat what you eat, especially fruits, vegetables and candy. He will also enjoy your houseplants, and, if taken outside, your flowers, bushes and trees.

  • Diaper a baby chimp. Sometimes chimps can learn to use toilets if you let them watch and imitate you. Most chimps go whenever and wherever they want once they learn to remove their diapers.

  • Plan on spending at least as much time with your chimp as you would with your child, probably more. Remember that there are no chimp schools or day care centers. Leaving your chimp unattended is extremely risky. A cage that can hold a chimp is costly, and will increase their anxiety and aggression.

  • Provide for your chimp in case it outlives you, since chimps live 50 to 60 years. Sanctuaries are overcrowded, zoos will not take chimps that have been pets, so unwanted chimps wind up in roadside zoos or research facilities.

  • Arrange for a veterinarian well in advance because those who can treat primates are both uncommon and costly.

  • Expect your chimp to have a strong, sharp smell. It's tough to eliminate it because chimps are afraid of water.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check with agencies that cover animal control, zoning, health, wildlife and agriculture to see what the laws are in your area.
  • Check if your insurance policy covers damage or injuries caused by exotic pets. Purchase additional coverage if needed.
  • Look into volunteering for a local primate sanctuary if you love chimps. Many allow you to adopt a chimp through yearly donations.
  • Federal law prohibits the importation or re-importation of non-human primates for pets. The Center for Disease Control oversees this regulation because primates can carry dangerous diseases, such as Ebola and tuberculosis.
  • Chimps bite when angry, scared or wanting to dominate. Professionals who work with chimpanzees commonly lose fingers.

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