Let’s hope not it’s not a trend. But a rash of recent ads featuring monkeys makes me worry.

When major brands like Sears and Burger King and Kmart use monkeys in their commercials, are they going to be selling the idea that monkeys make cute pets? Maybe that’s what viewers will take away, more so than the latest burger special or jewelry promotion or rewards program.

(The Kmart ad points out that they don’t actually sell monkeys. I guess we can be grateful for that much.)

No one knows for sure, but a common estimate is that 15,000 primates are kept as pets in the U.S. Lots of these animals are regarded as surrogate children and “pampered” in unnatural ways—dressed in frilly outfits with diapers and fed human junk food.

Until they start to bite or act out in other wild ways.

Then come what are politely referred to as the “alterations.” Teeth are pulled—sometimes the whole set, not just the canines. Males are neutered. Capuchin monkeys, like the ones featured in these recent ads, are known for their high intelligence and manual dexterity; they may have fingers amputated by their owners to keep them from getting into mischief.


Or perhaps they will simply be abandoned by their owner, once the inconvenience becomes too great, perhaps sent to a roadside zoo. Apparently, Justin Bieber is just going to let his former pet monkey Mally (below) stay behind in Germany at an “undisclosed location” instead of going to the Jungle Friends sanctuary here in the U.S. At Jungle Friends, Mally would at least be with other capuchins; about 70 percent of the rescued primates at Jungle Friends are former pets like Mally.

Primates who end up as pets may have been removed from their mothers as young as three days of age. In the wild, young capuchins stay with their mothers for two or three years.

That’s what makes using a monkey to sell Mother’s Day specials so crazy. Monkey madness, indeed—and not in a good way.