When I was in grade school, my best friend had a monkey. I don’t know what kind it was, but I can tell you this: My friend’s parents had a Kung-Fu outfit for this monkey. His name was Bentley and he was kept is a large cage in the basement. When you got too close to his cage, he would grab at your shirt and tear it. But, if you were my friend’s dad, he would let you get into the cage and wrestle him. Bentley had some scrap in him, that’s for sure. I used to love watching the two of them go at it. It was like seeing a man and a small, furry Bruce Lee in a cage match. The dad, who was a Golden Gloves champion in the Navy, took it easy, though, because he saw the monkey, as did everyone, more like a very excitable, very challenged little boy…who was only let out of his cage for parties.
Recently, I was looking for a pet of my own because I was sad and lonely in New York City. I’m allergic to dogs and cats, so I knew I needed something else, something less traditional. Iguanas crossed my mind. So did the Mexican Hairless, but neither seemed to have any personality or warmth. Then, I remembered Bentley. Was I allergic to him? I don’t recall sneezing or itching when I was watching my friend’s dad put him in a headlock. And even if I was, would it bother me that much if I kept him in a cage in my second bedroom? I don’t go in there too often, so I wouldn’t die or anything. I just wouldn’t hang out in there and spar with him. But it would smell. Oooh man do I remember the way that basement smelled. Of course, they had a raccoon down there, too.
Would I have to walk my monkey? That could be a problem in this city, what with all of the permits I wouldn’t have and all. And I’m sure, if he was as radical as Bentley, he wouldn’t take kindly to those annoying little dogs that look like rats wearing coats and sneakers.
The idea of owning a monkey, which I thought could double as a kind-of-human friend, was still very appealing to me, regardless of all of these things. So I began to price them. As it turns out, monkeys are expensive! The cheapest one I could find online was $5,000!
Suddenly, having a monkey quickly became unfeasible. So, I did the next best thing: I bought Sea Monkeys.
After a few weeks, I am still happy with my choice. Sure, Sea Monkeys lack the animation of a primate, but they float around sometimes and are waaaay easier (and cheaper!) to maintain.
If you are considering getting a monkey, but can’t decide if it’s for you or not, consider going the Sea Monkey route. Here’s a Tale of the Tape that might help you to make up your mind:
Monkey: 8.8-20 lbs.
Sea Monkey: Virtually nothing!
Winner: Tie – depends on your space
Monkey: At least $5, 000
Sea Monkey: $5, tops
Winner: Sea Monkey, of course
Monkey: Must clean filthy cage regularly
Sea Monkey: None
Winner: Sea Monkey!
Sea Monkey: Specially developed “Sea Monkey Food” (included in box!)
Winner: Monkey. You can share!
Monkey: Can be pretty grumpy, but can also funny!
Sea Monkey: Hard to tell
Winner: Tie. Depends on how much interaction you need
Sea Monkey: Do they even make this to fling?
Winner: Sea Monkey, hands down
Service to Science:
Monkey: For sure. Primates are in.
Sea Monkeys: Would you believe, a role in toxicology? [1,2,3]
Winner: Too close to call – even.
Monkey: Oh yes
Sea Monkey: Not Really
Winner: That snazzy monkey!!
Monkey: a cage in your second bedroom/basement/yard
Sea Monkey: a bowl of water, anywhere
Winner: Tie – Again, depends on your space
As you can see, it’s a pretty close call between these two. I suppose your decision will come down to how invested you would be in owning a pet…and whether or not you feel like dodging flung poo.
1. Artemia salina as test organism for assessment of acute toxicity of leachate water from landfills. Environ Monit Assess. 2005 Mar;102(1-3):309-21
2. The use of a brine shrimp (Artemia salina) bioassay to assess the toxicity of diatom extracts and short chain aldehydes. Toxicon. 2003 Sep;42(3):301-6.
3. Biological screening of Annonaceous Brazilian Medicinal Plants using Artemia salina (brine shrimp test). Phytomedicine. 2003 Mar;10(2-3):209-12.