Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor

Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor
Picture by Justin Wyatt
To read Hilary's story buy this special book...

This magical story has a touch of the supernatural. When an injured crane is found and nursed, something happens, something magical and inspiring...

Gentle Footprints launched- AS SEEN ON TV

Gentle Footprints was officially launched Fri June 4th at the Hay Festival with guest speaker Virginia McKenna and some of the authors

Buy from Bridge House Publishing by clicking on the link BUY:


Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Animal Anthology To Raise Funds for Born Free

Bridge House Publishing announce new book coming Spring 2010. For more about Bridge House please see their website.
This book is the annual charity book for Born Free...if you want to get involved with promoting and selling this book- email me!

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Saturday, 3 April 2010

A lot of mentally disturbed animals

"Black and white capuchin: male 7 yrs old, hand raised, but needs work, $4,500" reads the ad from a US website. The internet is full of adverts for monkeys for sale. Some of them are clearly scams. Others, like this one, hide a tale of tragedy for one individual - and suggest that monkeys are not such good pets after all.

Welcome to the week of the capuchin monkey, genus cebus. Although there are over 250 species of monkey, we can probably all picture the capuchin: they're the "organ grinder" monkeys, dressed up and trained to hold out a collection cup. Marcel, in the worst ever Friends storyline, was a capuchin. There are capuchins in the "Night at the Museum" films as well and these apparently provoked a lot of enquiries about where to get them to buy as pets. It's not always an advantage to be cute and clever.

Capuchins originate from Central and South America, from Honduras to Paraguay, and were named by the first European explorers who saw the tufts of fur on the monkeys' heads and were reminded of the brown hoods of Capuchin friars (the same ones who would later give the name to a popular frothy coffee).

Traders take the babies from the wild, which can involve killing the whole family group. Once traded, capuchins are used in entertainment, as surrogate children, status symbols, experimented on in laboratories and also now, it seems, bred for use as assistance animals to disabled people. I haven't been able to gauge how well that's working because as one of the characters in my story says "All wild animals can bite". The internet carries a lot of stories about how previously sweet pet monkeys unexpectedly do just that, and do rather a lot of damage.

Not only that, but as one director at as US zoo said, "If you try to keep them as pets you're creating a mentally disturbed animal in 99.9 percent of the cases".

Nobody really knows how many primates are being kept as pets in the UK - records aren't kept. Experts believe 3,000 to 5,000; some estimates are as high as 11,000. Either way, it's a lot of mentally disturbed animals.

Tomorrow some capuchin facts and figures and more about the inspiration for my story.


  1. Good post Gail. I totally agree with all you have said.

  2. Great post- I agree as well! You figured out the Blogging thing then! I had terrible trouble this morning with the picture and I wanted to correct the typo but it wouldn't let me in. Wanted the picture centre as well but it won't! Never mind. Looking forward to more posts! Debz

  3. Yes, it does seem to have a mind of its own, doesn't it? I certainly wasn't up at 2am posting, as it looks, and now unfortunately we have two of the same photo, lovely as it is. Anyway, thank you, Sharon and Debz, for your kind words and support for the pet monkeys. Sharon, I wanted to say the same to you about your own week but was baffled at that stage by the commenting...

  4. As a disabled person who has a service/companion capuchin I take offense to your negative reference. You unfairly grouped capuchin's bred and trained by a reputible and well-known program with what you refer to as animal abusers. I can tell you these monkeys are not mentally disturbed, only those who condemn the programs are. If you'd do a little investigating, you'll quickly learn how invaluable these programs really can be.

  5. Dear T,

    As the owner of the Blog and the person behind the Gentle Footprints book, I'd like to thank you for your comments that I feel deserve an official response.

    While I appreciate what you're saying, it remains the philosophy of the Born Free Foundation that animals have the right to be born free and to live free. This is the message of the Gentle Footprints book.

    I did refer your comments to the Born Free Foundation and this is what they said:

    “Wild animals such as primates are unsuited to a domestic environment. Captive breeding and training do little to alter the environmental and behavioural requirements of primates, and we firmly believe that the welfare of the primates, and human safety, is compromised by keeping them as pets or "service" animals.”

    So once again I thank you for taking the time to comment and I do appeciate your point of view, however we fully support the philosophy of the Born Free Foundation.

    Debz Hobbs-Wyatt
    Marketing Manager, Bridge House Publishing