Year of the Mini-Monkey? Newly wealthy in China illegally purchase endangered primates from the Amazon
It seems that some folks are taking the Year of the Monkey a little too far. With their newly acquired wealth, an alarming number of the nouveau riche in China are paying loads of money for the smallest monkeys in the world, either to own as pets or to give them away as gifts. Granted, these tiny primates are super cute, but the problem is that they're endangered, and any transaction involving them is very illegal.
Native to the western Amazon Basin in South America, the five-inch tall pygmy marmoset is the smallest monkey and one of the smallest primates in the world. Weighing only about 100 grams, they are called "thumb monkeys" by locals, as they often will cling onto a person's hand when being held. As cute as they are, they are also endangered, which is why the buying and selling of them is against the law. Because of the habitat of where these little monkeys are from, forcing them to live in anywhere else is highly unethical, especially when the environment cannot be controlled. They have a very specific diet, and raising them is not easy. Because of some decline in local populations, they have been put on an endangered list by the International Union for Conservation, but fortunately, the threat of major decline at this moment is very minimal.
However, concern for these creatures' well-being is not shared by all. The pygmy marmoset has become somewhat of a trend amongst the super-rich in China, many of whom pay up to 30,000 yuan, or about 4,500 US dollars, to own one. Once purchased, they are given away as New Year's gifts or kept as accessories to be flaunted to those not wealthy enough or not inconsiderate enough to buy their own.
The bottom line is that these mini-monkeys are meant to be living in the Amazon, in their natural habitat, not in China or anywhere else. No matter how small, some animals just aren't meant to be pets.