Is It Illegal to Have a Monkey as a Pet?

By Mark Berger

Robert Gray/Getty Images News/Getty Images

States take differing views on monkey ownership ranging from no laws or requirements at all -- to requiring permits -- to banning monkey ownership completely. Even in states that do allow ownership, local counties, cities and municipalities can enact their own laws to force stricter requirements upon owners or ban monkey ownership entirely. Check your local statutes prior to purchasing a monkey, in any state where owning a monkey is permitted.

States Where Monkey Ownership is Banned

Twenty-one states ban current ownership of monkeys and the entire non-human primate species as pets. They are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming. In Kentucky, owning a monkey is banned unless it was owned prior to July 2005. In Louisiana, owning a monkey is banned, unless it was owned prior to March, 2005 or if the monkey is kept as an assisted living primate for someone who is physically challenged. In Maryland, monkey ownership is banned unless it was owned prior to May 31, 2006. In Massachusetts, it is banned unless the monkey was owned prior to June 30, 1995. In Minnesota owning a monkey is banned, unless it was owned prior to January 1, 2005 and upon the death of the monkey, it may be replaced once by the owner. In New York state, it is banned unless it was owned prior to January 1, 2005.

States with No Laws on Monkey Ownership

Some states have no statutes, laws or ordinances regarding owning monkeys as pets. They include Alabama, Arkansas, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Idaho has no laws on monkey ownership -- except for one that requires the owner to show proof that the primate was purchased legally.

States that Require a Permit for Monkey Ownership

Some states will allow the ownership of a monkey with the purchase of a permit. To obtain a permit, the owner will typically be required to show proof of legal ownership, that there is the proper space and facilities available for the monkey and that the monkey is in good health. These states include Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island and South Dakota.

Special Circumstances

Some states have passed laws with special circumstances related to owning a monkey. Alaska will only allow ownership of chimpanzees. In Florida, unless it was owned prior to August 1, 1980, it is Illegal to own chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and baboons. It is legal however to own macaques, howler and guereza monkeys with a permit. In the state of Tennessee, unless they were owned prior to June 25, 1991, it is illegal to own gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, gibbons, siamangs, mandrills, drills, baboons and gelada baboons. It is legal though to own monkeys with a permit. In Texas, permits are needed for baboons, chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas, but none are needed for monkey ownership.

About the Author

Mark Berger has been writing since 2010, with most of his work appearing at Answerbag. Berger has a Bachelor of Science in liberal arts, concentrating on advertising, marketing and creative writing. He graduated from the State University of New York at Oneonta.

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